Blues boss blasts referee

Hayden Mullins can't believe his eyes as he is shown the red card. Picture: Robin Jones
Hayden Mullins can't believe his eyes as he is shown the red card. Picture: Robin Jones
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Pompey boss Steve Cotterill blasted referee Dean Whitestone following his controversial handling of last night’s Coventry clash.

The Blues slumped to a 3-0 defeat which once and for all ended any lingering hopes of a play-off push.

Yet it was the performance of referee Whitestone which left the majority of those present at Fratton Park fuming.

The Northamptonshire official produced an erratic display, capped off by the dismissal of Hayden Mullins.

The Pompey midfielder was adjudged to have handled Lukas Jutkiewicz’s 70th-minute shot from close-range and was given a straight red card.

It’s a decision which left Cotterill and his players seething amid claims the ball actually hit Mullins on the thigh.

Marlon King subsequently scored from the spot for the second time in the match to seal a 3-0 victory for the visitors.

And, afterwards, a frustrated Cotterill criticised Whitestone and the decisions which influenced a disappointing result.

He said: ‘I have got to be careful what I say but there is no way we should have lost that game 3-0.

‘There was one obstacle we couldn’t overcome I’m afraid and it wasn’t Coventry City.

‘It’s bad enough when you don’t get one or two decisions but when it comes as thick and fast as that it is very, very difficult for the players because they get frustrated.

‘It was not a penalty, it hit Hayden Mullins absolutely square on the thigh.

‘It was belted at him, it hit him on the thigh and then it hit him on the hand.

‘There is no way that was a penalty and we will be appealing that very, very strongly with what I think is a rock-solid case.

‘When anyone gets an opportunity to look at that, look at it, put it on your slow-mo, put it on your Sky and you will see that should never have been a penalty. Never.

‘The referee said it was deliberate handball. At 3-0 and a man down it’s hard for our boys to come back. It’s mammoth to try to overturn.’

The result leaves Pompey in 14th spot in the Championship table – nine points off the play-off places.

With five matches to go, it ends all hopes of them maintaining the impressive late push which took them to the fringes of the top six.

And Cotterill now concedes that is one ambition definitely over for the season.

He added: ‘Probably I knew a couple of games ago we weren’t going to get in the play-offs but you have to stay defiant right until the end.

‘The players were reading that as well so I was trying to keep their beliefs up.

‘One thing is for sure now, that is dead and buried for this year.’