Owen Coyle was left dumbfounded following his team’s 1-0 defeat to Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon, after his side harshly saw a goal disallowed and a penalty claim turned down by the officials.
Replays showed that both decisions were wrongly given the way of the home team, who struck against the run of play late on to steal the three points, but Coyle was quick to praise his players’ efforts as much as give his views on the decisions given by the referee.
He said: “It’s not very often after defeat that you go into a dressing room and congratulate your players on their performance, but that was the first thing I did after the game.
“We played terrifically well and had superb support from the travelling fans, but the decisions from the referee have left us frustrated.
“Nick Powell had a perfectly good goal in the first half disallowed for an offside flag on James McClean, but at the time it was clear he was on and the replays support that claim.
“A goal at that stage of the game, whilst we were in the ascendency would have paved the way for us to go on and win; I’ve no doubt about it.
“But that went against us, and then we have a stonewall penalty claim in the second half turned away when Nick is clearly fouled inside the area. You can know from Nick’s reaction that he’s been fouled and for the life of me I can’t see why it’s not been given.
“We had two or three apologies from the officials during the game; I don’t want apologies, I just want them to get the decisions right because it’s cost us dearly this afternoon.
“Watford are a very good team and will certainly be one of the challengers at the top of the table come the end of the season, but we’ve come here where they are unbeaten this season, with a full house behind them and outplayed them at their own game, we were the best team on the pitch.
“If we keep performing like that week in week out, we’ll get the points we need because the players were a credit to themselves.
“This will make us stronger without doubt. The feeling of being hard done by will make the players hungry in training and if we produce that level of performance on a regular basis, there are few teams who will stand toe-to-toe with us.”
There were further frustrations for Coyle on the day after Marc-Antoine Fortune suffered a recurrence of the injury that has kept him out over the past week, and Thomas Rogne was forced off towards the end of the game.
He said: “Marc-Antoine felt his hamstring tighten during the first half so we had to take him off before it became any worse so we’ll see how far back that will set him. His replacement, Callum McManaman was someone we were hoping to build back into the team and bring up to full speed, but he did extremely well when he came on.
“Thomas Rogne has been on the treatment table with a gash on his leg after a challenge, if you can call it that, somehow went unpunished.
“We’ll assess that injury over the next few days, it doesn’t look particularly pleasing on the eye it has to be said, but I’m hoping it’s superficial rather than anything long term.”