WITH the fallout from ‘Wiley-gate’ still rumbling on and debates centred around managers’ respect for referees top of the sporting agenda, Michael Oliver did little to endear the humble match official to Accrington hearts on Saturday.
Stanley fell to a narrow defeat against League Two leaders Bournemouth in a game that saw boss John Coleman sent to the stands just seven minutes into the contest. Dismissed from the touchline when he objected strongly to Michael Symes’ booking for a late challenge on Warren Cummings, Coleman was highly critical of Oliver’s marshaling of the match.
"Now I can understand why people lose faith in the integrity and ability of match officials," said Coleman after the game. "I got annoyed when our player was booked for a foul on their lad – if he did catch him it was marginal. If a Premiership manager got as annoyed as I did, would he have been sent off? I think not, I think the referee was being a bit petty."
If his own dismissal angered Coleman, the Stanley chief was positively seething his side were not awarded a penalty for what appeared a blatant foul on skipper Andrew Proctor.
"You cannot legislate for having a stonewall penalty turned down and I think everyone in the ground could see it. It was embarrassing and you’d have to question whether or not the referee wanted to give it.
"We should have got something from the match and I certainly don’t think the best team won the game. There was no drop in our performance level and I felt we were the better team, unfortunately we lost concentration at a set-piece and they scored.
"You don’t always get what you deserve in this game and even the most staunch of Bournemouth supporters will realise they didn’t deserve to win this game. Fair play to them, they are top of the league because they have built their foundations on not conceding goals and despite us putting them under pressure, they never buckled."
Coleman was dealt a blow in his preparation for the game when Darren Kempson was ruled out of the squad due to injury, Phil Edwards coming in for him.
The visitors started brightly, Brett Pitman and Liam Feeney posing a threat to the backline. The pair combined to good effect in the 11th minute when Pitman headed Feeney’s centre over the bar, the striker was on target with his next effort, a sharp spin and shot inside the area saved by Ian Dunbavin.
Stanley were struggling to get their game going and suffered another setback when Chris Turner was forced off injured in the 14th minute.
Jimmy Ryan, his replacement, set about settling nerves and with his arrival, the hosts gradually looked better. Ryan fired Stanley’s first effort of note in the 21st minute, a freekick from 25 yards that bounced awkwardly in front of Shwan Jalal, the Bournemouth goalkeeper. That effort prompted Stanley’s best spell.
Robert Grant had the best chance of the half when he rose to meet a John Miles cross in the 37th minute, heading into the ground only for Jalal to pull off a useful save.
After the break, Pitman’s freekick was save by Dunbavin before Accrington went close again, Miles picking a neat pass to open up the Bournemouth backline and send Symes through on goal, the striker failing to beat Jalal who came off his line to narrow the angle.
The winner came in the 77th minute, Cummings sending a freekick into the mix and Danny¿Hollands reacting quickest, stooping low to divert a header past Dunbavin.
In their desperate bid for an equaliser, Stanley were opened up again, Pitman wasting a great chance when presented with a free header.
Ryan almost grabbed a deserved point for the home side when his drive took a nick off Cummings on its way to goal, Jalal again earning his corn with a good save at full stretch.
Accrington: Dunbavin, Procter, Miles, Joyce, Grant, Edwards, Winnard, Turner (Ryan 14), Symes, Murphy (Kee 79), Lees. Subs unused:
Bournemouth: Jalal, Feeney, Molesley (Bartley 87), Pearce, Cummings, Garry, Fletcher (Connell 67), Hollands, Bradbury, Pitman, Robinson. Subs unused: