Harrogate Town 0 Notts County 2: Red card was 'harsh' but we only have ourselves to blame - Simon Weaver
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver was reluctant to blame referee David Richardson for Tuesday's National League defeat to Notts County, but felt his decision to send Will Smith off was 'harsh'.
The ex-Barnsley centre-half was penalised for handball close to his own goal-line just moments before half-time, and also given his marching orders, leaving Town to play the whole of the second period a man down.
Magpies striker Kristian Dennis converted the resulting spot-kick, just five minutes after Town had missed one of their own, and the visitors went on to win the game 2-0.
“I don’t want to talk about the referee too much because it’s an external factor. If we’re better with our finishing then you’re not even talking about it," he said.
“It looked a handball from where I was so I’m not going to hide behind that.
"It was a shot from point-blank range and Will’s a defender and doesn’t want it to go in.
“It looked a penalty. A sending off? I didn’t think that these days you got a penalty and a sending off, so I thought that was particularly harsh."
Notts brought a sizeable and particularly vociferous following to the CNG Stadium and Weaver doesn't feel there can be any doubting the impact that the County supporters had on Mr Richardson.
Having initially appeared unconvinced by the Magpies' appeals for a penalty and allowed play to continue, he eventually blew up and pointed to the spot.
Then, with the atmosphere intensifying amidst sustained chants of "off, off, off" from the away fans, the man in black deemed it necessary to produce a red card.
“Being honest, I thought the Notts County supporters turned up, they were really intense and I think the occasion got to the referee at moments in the game," Weaver added.
“I think he took a long time to decide whether it was a penalty and then suddenly it’s a red card as well.
“I thought ‘fine, a penalty’, but big football clubs, their support bay for blood and referees sometimes become trigger-happy and it was like that. It’s a shame."
Yet, although disappointed with the decision to send Smith off, Weaver is adamant that culpability for Tuesday's defeat lies with his own players and their lack of a clinical edge in the opposition box.
“In front of goal, we’re not good enough at the minute," he said.
"You’ve got to finish. Kristian Dennis did for them, we didn’t when we had our chances.
"This is what’s cost us."