Notts County were robbed of victory at Coventry City’s Ricoh Arena as Kevin Nolan’s men had to settle for a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their League Two playoff semi-final.
The Magpies led through Jonathan Forte’s deft second-half finish and looked on course to record a morale-boosting victory to put them in pole position for Wembley.
However, "referee" Gavin Ward incorrectly adjudged Matt Tootle to have felled Tom Bayliss in the area and awarded a penalty to the hosts much to the disbelief of the Notts contingent.
Marc McNulty stroked home the spotkick, sending Adam Collin the wrong way, to send the Sky Blues into next Friday’s Meadow Lane showdown on level terms.
Here is how the Notts contingent reacted to the Coventry Screwjob.
"It's been taken away from us by a referee, by a really really poor decision. That buoys the crowd and players, he misses a blatant handball too. Is he trying to even it up? Probably.
"We shouldn't have been in that position, we knew it was going to be tough, with the conditions and everything else, but we should've been coming away with a 1-0 but the referee has made a howler.
"I've just said to the lads, you obviously feel robbed and we would've taken a 1-1 before the game if we'd been handed it, but the circumstances have made it more disappointing."
The Black & White Army
Chris: First half it was frustrating to see how much respect we gave Coventry, I mean we didn't seem to have any sort of active game plan. It was a case of hoofing it all the time, even when the ball could have been played on the floor. I know the conditions were shocking but hitting the ball forward in hope that Stead or Forte could get control over it never seemed likely to work. Besides, Coventry managed to retain the ball on the ground even in areas where the water literally stopped the motion of play - so why couldn't we?
Second half we played with a bit more of a plan and the game simply changed it all, we grew in confidence but I think we should have pushed harder for a second.
The penalty decision is beyond stupidity, there's no credible reason why the referee gave it - it's just absolutely insane that he believed it was fair foul. The player, slipped and then went down like a sack of spuds. There was no discussion over the decision, I actually think he had a very good line of view but decided to ignore 'common sense'.
I'm confident that we can lift our game and push on, we need to be stronger at home and us fans need to make ourselves known.
Disappointed but not overly bothered now, stupid decisions seems a common thing for us - we move past it. COYP!
Hissingdwarf: I think the team played to Nolan’s brief for the whole match. First half, keep em subdued and tight defending in all areas, second half, attack and push on. Worked well apart from dismal ref decision.
Michael Belshaw: Unfortunately this has been happening for a few seasons now.The quality, or lack of, refs has gone down.Also what is the point of linesman,sorry assistant referees,they are incapable of making a decision.
Richard Thompson: To add , why do goalkeepers simply flop to the floor and give up on pens and dive the wrong way? You can bet your ass if it's a free kick 1 yard outside the penalty area they will dive the right way???
Colin Metcalf: Yet another **** ref which the spineless money grabbing tossers at the EFL will do **** all about.
Mark Rogers: how anyone can make a decision on the penalty from the away stand where we were sitting at the other end of the stadium, as opposed to where the referree was right on top of it, is ever so slightly beyond my comprehension??
Scott Weatherbed: Fix
Chris Jordan: Notts set up for and played this spot on. Robbed of a goal advantage tonight but heads should be held high after a cracking performance.
Carl Webster: To be fair we were ****... we can’t keep the ball
Paul Bruce: Forte was also kicked off the ball towards the end.
Grant Redwood: Robbed
Darren Handley: Cheating Coventry wankers and the **** of a ref who got bullied most of the game by their fcuktard fans buckled under pressure prick
David Skelding: The penalty was an awful decision but when you sit back too long things like that can happen. I'm happy with the draw and make us favourites now.
Luke James: outrageous get the fa on it now worst ref decision for a long while
Richard Thompson: Time for refs to be brought into disrepute