HIGNETT RAGE AT REF JUSTICE
PLYMOUTH’S hopes of equalling a club record were ended – and they were fortunate to scrape a point against Hartlepool United.
After seven successive wins, the Pilgrims aimed to match the class of 93 when Peter Shilton’s side recorded eight in a row.
They never looked like matching that achievement and were second best for long periods against Pools, who ended the game with ten men after Scott Harrison was sent off in injury time and manager Craig Hignett was sent to the stands.
Hignett’s anger came was sparked by the performance of referee Gavin Ward, the Pools boss fuming at the award of an 84th-minute penalty which gave the home side a leveller. Jake Jervis made no mistake from the spot after Toto Nsiala was penalised for high feet.
Pilgrims boss Derek Adams was a relieved man and admitted: “We played one ball in behind and get a penalty. Sometimes you have to say – take a point and move on. We could have probably won the game but did we deserve to win the game? Probably not.
“We started the game well and Hartlepool were able to get their goal and sat back for the rest of the game. We didn’t use the ball well enough and didn’t move it quickly enough. We did well to get to 1-1 and it was always going to be difficult to get to 2-1. But we keep our unbeaten run.
“Hartlepool worked hard and were good on the ball without creating opportunities.’’
Pools took the lead when Nathan Thomas, a former Pilgrims winger, fired in a cross-cum-shot that deceived keeper Luke McCormick and sailed into the net.
The visitors controlled possession for long periods, with the home side failing to make any inroads on the visitors.
A free-kick from Graham Carey which was saved by Trevor Carson was their sole effort in the opening half.
Pools were always a threat on the counter attack, and with a bit more conviction in front of goal could have doubled their advantage.
They looked like seeing the game out, before referee Ward became the centre of attention with the penalty and dismissals as he lost control.
Hignett said: “We defended really well, done enough to see it out, but that was 15 minutes I’ve never seen before on a football field.
“It was frightening. I can say the referee lost control because he did lose control. I don’t know what he was booking players for, I don’t know what the explanations were, the penalty was laughable and Toto kicks the ball quite clearly.
“Referees make a rod for their own backs and I don’t condone players going for him at every decision, but when it descends like that I
EQUALISER: Jake Jervis levels from the spot
RETURNING HERO: Nathan Thomas grabs the opener for Hartlepool