STEVE Riley is not a serial offender when it comes to getting on referees’ backs.
But even he found it hard to hold his tongue after the relegation-battling Stags had young defender Rob Flooks, pictured below, sent off in Saturday’s gutsy 2-0 defeat against Calor Southern Premier title chasers Chesham United.
The decision to show ex-Fawley and Eastleigh youngster Flooks a second yellow for what Riley saw as nothing more than “a mis-timed trip” was just one of several decisions that got his goat.
He said: “I don’t like speaking about referees, but it was the main talking point in the bar afterwards.
“The standard of refereeing just wasn’t good enough at this level.
“Chesham had ex-pro Darren Purse, who’s played for Birmingham, Cardiff and Sheffield Wednesday, playing for them and he was lucky not to get in the book on several occasions.
“But we’ve lost young Rob Flooks to a second yellow when there was nothing malicious about it at all. As their player went past, Rob’s stuck a leg out and the lad’s gone down as if he’s been shot.
“A free-kick was given which Chesham were setting up, but then two of their players have got round the referee chatting, which I don’t like to see, and the ref’s called Rob back and pulled out a yellow card. “The ref was laughing and shaking his head when no decisions were going for us. It was quite embarrassing to be honest.
“Our players are under enough pressure without having to deal with that.
“It was 1-0 at the time (of Flooks’ dismissal) and decisions like that are costly. We just want a level of consistency.”
Having taken the lead with a mis-hit James Potton cross midway through the first half, Chesham failed to build on it until Drew Roberts punished the ten men in second-half stoppage time.
Ultimately the visitors were good value for their win, but Totton were not without chances.
Alex Moth should have done better from eight yards but scuffed his shot, Drew Bridge had a couple of openings and Luke Roberts sent a diving header over.
Flooks got his first booking, along with Chesham’s Chris Dillon, after the pair had squared up to each other just before the break.
The visitors piled on the second-half pressure but, with Totton defending valiantly, they couldn’t make it count and the Stags felt hard done by to have a penalty turned down for an apparent shove on Taylor Edwards.
Totton’s set-piece maestro Ryan Hill had a ferocious strike blocked, but it was Chesham’s top scorer Roberts who claimed the last word. “I couldn’t ask any more from my players today, they battled hard against a powerful side,” said Riley.
“We were in it right until the death.
“Chesham are not second in the league for nothing and they probably should have had two or three more goals, but our lads were well organised and we showed how far we’ve come in the last month.
“We never gave up and it was a good, positive atmosphere here with everyone saying we did well.”
The Stags, away to Corby on Wednesday, next Saturday host table-topping Hemel Hempstead who crushed them 8-1 in November.
l Saturday’s scheduled matches involving rock-bottom Bashley and promotion-chasing Poole Town were wash-outs as were all but one Sydenhams Wessex fixture – Bemerton beating Wiltshire neighbours Downton 3-1 at Wick Lane through Kane O’Keefe, Joe Sanger and Danny Young.