Jason Pearce was not at fault for conceding the crucial penalty that put West Ham 3-2 up, according to Steve Cotterill.
The Blues boss was already fuming at what he felt was the harsh dismissal of Liam Lawrence when he insisted his men were on the wrong end of another poor decision from the officials to give Mark Noble the chance to put the Hammers ahead from the penalty spot.
Julien Faubert attempted to flick the ball over the head of the Blues defender inside the box, only for it to strike Pearce’s outstretched arm at close range.
Pearce’s arms were raised, even though it clearly wasn’t deliberate, but some are given and some aren’t in those situations.
And Cotterill believes the vocal West Ham fans appealing in unison influenced the referee’s assistant to flag for the infringement.
Cotterill said: ‘It was ball to hand.
‘I’ve watched it five times and Jason Pearce wasn’t even looking at the ball and it hit him on the hand.
‘To be fair to Faubert, he was trying a nice bit of skill. But the crowd got them the penalty.
‘Good luck to West Ham because they are a big club with vocal fans - but the crowd got them their penalty and the linesman only flagged when the crowd went up for it.’
Having got their noses in front early through Luke Varney’s deflected strike, Matt Taylor responded instantly with a free-kick.
But Cotterill felt that losing a lead so soon after taking it had not affected his side’s performance as the match wore on.
He said: ‘That wasn’t a killer because we got back in the game and we were the better team after that.
‘It’s disappointing when a goal goes in when you’ve just scored, but we’ve got to keep in mind that we were playing West Ham.
‘With all due respect, we’re not playing some non-league team.
‘There were probably 30,000 people and they are a big club with very good players.
‘I was pleased with us but I’m really disappointed for the lads. They put a lot of hard work into it.
‘We were the team in the ascendancy and then there was the sending off and the penalty.
‘I had no complaints about their fourth goal - it was a fantastic header.
‘But we were really, really disappointed because I thought we passed the ball really well against a very good team.’