Gainsborough Trinity manager Steve Housham was incredulous after a hat-trick of penalties downed his side in their 4-1 loss to North Ferriby United.
Referee Neil Hair took centre stage in what was a hotly-contested local derby, awarding two penalties in five first half minutes before pointing to the spot again late in the second half – Nathan Jarman converting on each occasion before Liam King netted a late fourth.
“We should have had one before their first one was given,” fumed the Blues boss, “it was embarrassing from the referee. To be honest, he’s not worth talking about – I don’t want to get into trouble.”
“I hope he’s gone home and looked hard at himself in the mirror like some of my players will do.”
“I was watching in disbelief on the bench. It was a mind blowing experience.”
Early on, there was plenty of the energy that the Blues’ young forward line showed so impressively at Hednesford Town on Saturday, and the pressure put on the visitors’ back four led to some nervy moments for the Villagers.
Jonathon Margetts continued to prove a handful, and had a very good penalty shout turned down on 25 minutes.
After gambling on a deflection, the in-form striker found himself physically restrained as he got his shot off from 15 yards out, only for his protests to be dismissed by Mr Hair.
With that mistake freshly in mind, the game was turned firmly on its head, the referee again firmly in the spotlight.
After a hanging ball into the Trinity box, Callum Howe and Anthony Wilson tangled – both with a fistful of each other’s shirt – only for the official to point to the spot without hesitation.
Jarman converted the spot kick, and then found himself doubling his tally five minutes later after Dominic Roma brought down Wilson, the forward going down theatrically under contact.
Just when it looked like the Blues would go into the break with an undeserved two goal deficit, Liam Davis curled a shot past Nicklin from the edge of the box to restore some semblance of balance to the scoreline.
The physical battle continued at the start of the second half, with Russell Fry and Margetts both going into the book soon after the restart. Margetts’ foul on goalkeeper Nicklin was firm enough to force Antoni Pecora on from the bench, and the move seemed to spark Trinity into life.
Margetts, Jamie Wootton and Curtis Bateson continued where they left off on Saturday, hounding the Ferriby defenders and creating errors, yet the equalising goal eluded them.
It seemed almost inevitable that the referee would have the final say in the outcome, and it was to prove the case on 72 minutes as he awarded the Villagers a third penalty.
Wilson’s run into the box was ended illegally by Howe – receiving a caution for his troubles – and Jarman entered the annals of football trivia by netting his third penalty of the night.
The third goal took the wind out of Trinity’s sails, and King added an emphatic air to the scoreline with a late header to round off a bizarre night for the Blues.
Trinity: Barnes, Roma, Leary, Davis, Howe, Young (Davie 7), Russell, Toner (Williams 34), Wootton, Margetts, Bateson
Subs: Martin, Winfarrah, Batty
Ferriby: Nicklin (Pecora 52), Robson, Wilde, King, Gray, Hone, Emerton (Peat 62), Fry, Wilson (McMahon 88), Jarman, Yates
Subs: Wilson, Kendall,
Yellow: Roma (37), Fry (47) Margetts (48), Howe (71)
Goals: Jarman (32 Pen, 37 Pen, 72 Pen) Davis (43)
Referee: Mr N Hair