'He hasn't got a bad bone in his body' - boss Pete Stiles fumes at Charlie Cooper's dismissal as nine-man Fareham Town suffer drubbing at AFC Stoneham
Pete Stiles was left raging at the sending off he felt cost Fareham Town dear in their heavy Wessex League Premier Division defeat at AFC Stoneham.
The Reds had both Charlie Cooper and Archie Willcox dismissed in the first half as they played 45 minutes with nine men in the 6-1 drubbing.
Yet it was Cooper's straight red after 23 minutes which left Stiles angered the most. The midfielder was sent off for violent conduct after his flailing boot caught an opposition player in the head as he was taken to the ground.
Stiles says Cooper 'doesn't have a bad bone in his body' and felt that was the ultimate turning point on a forgettable afternoon for Fareham in atrocious conditions.
He said: ‘We shouldn’t lose to teams like that. A diabolical decision by the referee and the linesman to send my first player (Charlie Cooper) off. It was unbelievable.
‘Charlie has not got a bad bone in his body. The guy has absolutely sliced him down and as Charlie has gone flying through the air he’s caught the guy in the head who took him down and he’s sent him off for violent conduct.
‘It was a pathetic first yellow (for Archie) then he’s obviously caught the lad in the box for his second yellow. It’s just frustrating.
‘You put all that effort in then to play with nine men on a plastic pitch in the pouring rain - if you’re winning and you’ve got 11 men it’s not a problem - if you’re getting beat and you’ve got nine men then it’s hard work.’
Incredibly, defender Willcox handed Fareham a sixth-minute lead before the afternoon descended into a disaster for the visitors.
Stoneham then levelled 11 minutes later then Cooper saw red after 23 minutes. Things got worse for the Reds as Willcox gave away a penalty, picking up a second yellow card, right on the stroke of half time as Stiles' men went down to nine men and trailed 3-1 at the break.
The hosts would go onto net a further three times after the break as the league's highest scorers were handed a drubbing of their own. But Stiles was left cursing the first dismissal for his men in the Stoneham defeat.
He said: ‘The first sending off was definitely the turning point because we’d gone one up - I was a bit disappointed about how we let them back to 1-1 - there’s no way in the world we would have lost that game (with 11 men).
‘You’re still getting over that (going down to 10 men), suddenly, then it’s a penalty and you’re down to nine - there’s no way back then.’