Nigel Clough sought an audience with referee Darren Bond and assessor Alan Wiley after expressing his incredulity at the official’s performance during last night’s play-off semi-final defeat by Swindon Town.
Clough exchanged words with Wiley – who the United manager described as Bond’s ‘coach’ – following an incident-packed first leg which saw the visitors secure a slender advantage courtesy of Nathan Byrne’s 90th minute strike.
Clough, whose side must overturn a 2-1 deficit on Monday to reach Wembley, cited four major decisions which had gone against his team including a failed penalty appeal by Jamie Murphy and Bond’s decision to disallow an effort by Matt Done.
Clough said: “We’ll have half an hour feeling sorry four ourselves and then get back to work planning for Monday. I’d settle for the same performance again but not the same referee.
“We feel very, very hard done by. We put our heart and souls into that, and we will do again, but there were four key decisions in that game. The early penalty, for a handball which is so ridiculously blatant that I can’t understand why it wasn’t given, and then the others after that.
“The ‘goal’ from Matty Done. Their lad went down so easily, it’s difficult to see what has happened that’s wrong.”
“They (the referees) have coaches now I think,” Clough added. “Mr Wiley, I believe, is his. An ex-Premiership referee.”
Clough’s frustrations were compounded when John Brayford and Stefan Scougall sustained injuries which are expected to rule them out of the trip to Wiltshire.
“We’re still in it,” Clough said. “We are more than capable of going down there and getting a result.”