Newport County 2 Harrogate Town 1: Red card was unwarranted, but we played better with 10 men, says Simon Weaver
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver does not believe that Josh Falkingham deserved to be sent off during Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Newport County.
The Sulphurites’ skipper was shown a second yellow card - for simulation - late in the first half, leaving the visitors to battle on for almost an hour with just 10 men.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Harrogate drew level through Will Smith’s 44th-minute strike, going on to more than match the League Two leaders in the second period.
Having held out until the 88th minute, Town’s resistance would eventually be broken, however, Brandon Cooper heading in what proved to be the winning goal from close range.
Speaking after the game, boss Weaver said he was left “dumbfounded” by a number of referee Paul Howard's decisions, but played down the significance of the red card, insisting that his team actually played better after Falkingham’s dismissal.
"I thought the first offence wasn't a bookable offence and the second was too far away for me to know whether there was simulation or not," the Harrogate chief said.
"So, at worst, he probably should have got a yellow card in the first half and then we still have the benefit of our captain on the pitch. It's hard enough coming to top of the league and Newport, a well-oiled, very organised outfit, and then you're without your talisman in midfield.
"There were decisions out there that dumbfounded us at times, but you're going to get that and you can't let it affect you. I said at half-time 'don't let it affect you so much that you're making it an excuse'.
"I thought we were superb when we went down to 10 men, before that they were the dominant team, creating chances, and we were hanging on in there at 1-0.
"We showed real character when we were outnumbered, we dug in and actually I thought we might sneak a win. In the end, it's disappointing."
Saturday's defeat means Harrogate have taken just one point from their last three games following their bright start to life as a Football League club.
They slip down four places to 12th in the table as a result, but remain only two points shy of the League Two play-off places.
Newport County: Townsend; Cooper, Bennett (Devitt 81), Demetriou; Shephard (Willmott 60), Sheehan, Labadie, Twine, Haynes; Amond, Abrahams (Proctor 60). Unused substitutes:
Harrogate Town: Belshaw; Burrell, Smith, Hall, Jones; Thomson, Falkingham, Kerry, Kiernan (Kirby 41); Muldoon, Martin (Beck 85). Unused substitutes: Cracknell, Stead, Walker, Lokko.
Referee: Paul Howard (London).