OXFORD United were left fuming after being denied a late penalty in a 1-0 defeat at Morecambe last night.
Trailing with 15 minutes remaining, Danny Hylton was sent to the ground as he went past goalkeeper Barry Roche in the box.
It looked a certain penalty and a red card, but referee Tony Harrington adjudged the U’s No 10 had dived.
With the visitors unable to find an equaliser, it turned out to be a crucial moment and left the U’s as one of four sides in Sky Bet League Two who have failed to take a point from their opening three games.
Skipper Jake Wright was left in no doubt about the decision, which was confirmed by Roche during the game and after the game by Kevin Ellison, who scored the winner.
He said: “I thought it was a straight red.
“I spoke to their keeper, he was honest and said ‘I brought him down and I thought I was getting sent off’.
“I don’t blame the keeper, the referee made the wrong decision.
“He didn’t mean to, but I’m gutted about it because it changes the whole game.”
It was harsh on United, whose excellent performance should have seen them get off the mark in the league.
They were immeasurably better than during a terrible 2-1 defeat at Mansfield Town on Saturday, producing a slick display which caused their hosts all sorts of problems.
While defeat was hard to take for Michael Appleton, the head coach felt there were plenty of signs for encouragement.
He said: “The overriding factor is probably pride, because I asked the players to be brave and do it our way.
“They never did that on Saturday and everyone knows that.
“They’ve come up against a side that have won the first two games of the season and we’ve done it.
“Anyone who was here can back me up, we’ve dominated the game from the first minute to the 90th.
“But when things aren’t quite going for you, those things happen.
“There will be a spell this season when we won’t play particularly well and wonder how we’ve won a game.
“So, you won’t see me taking a backward step and I’d be very surprised if any of the players do after the character they’ve shown here.”
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