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Hill post-Colchester (H)

12 March 2022

First team manager Keith Hill provided his reaction to iFollow Iron after his side were beaten 3-1 at home by Colchester United on Saturday.

His side went down to ten men after Luke Matheson's red card in the 35th minute, which followed Joe Nuttall's first goal for the club earlier on.

Hill believes his side were comfortable until Colchester's leveller on the hour mark, which he believes shouldn't have stood.

Hill said: "It's difficult for me to calm down or keep my composure emotionally because in a game that we got a player sent off and got to half-time with a one goal advantage, we set our team up not to concede in the second-half, which we were handling quite comfortably.

"I don't know if referees understand the dynamics of the game tactically and the fact we're down to ten men, but he made a decision which I've just watched back. It's clear handball (in the run-up to the goal) and he's told by the fourth official it's handball. He doesn't give the free-kick, they score a goal and the momentum of the game changes on that one decision that he has to get right. He doesn't understand the ramifications, the dynamic and the momentum swing. We're down to ten men and keeping them at distance, looking comfortable, but that instance made the last 25-30 minutes very difficult because of continual refereeing decisions that were dubious beyond doubt.

"It's a big role as the referee that you have to play, and you won't often hear me having a go at them because he ultimately didn't score the three goals we conceded. Okay, Luke Matheson was shown two yellow cards and I understand that. We get to half-time 1-0 and then comfortably allowed the opponents to have possession and not really building. The referee made a terrible decision and let me tell you know, this is 100 per cent guaranteed, the fourth official told him that it was handball.

"I'm so disappointed for the group of players, the football club and the supporters. The players have done as much as they possibly can and even rallied towards the end of the game when I believe we should have scored again.

"There's a lot of disappointment and emotional anger, but nobody will be held accountable. We will be for not being good enough over 46 games, but accountability should in my eyes and understanding be a referee's responsibility to safeguard both sets of players and come up with the right decisions during a game.

"It's difficult when you go down to ten men, but if you're 1-0 up at that point you have something to defend. I was reasonably comfortable going down to ten men because of our organisation but I'm not comfortable stood here as a manager trying to explain away a referee's performance. He should be responsible and accountable to explain why he got his performance so wrong today, and should be apologising."

The manager concluded with explaining why substitute goalkeeper Tom Collins pulled out during the warm-up, and briefly looked ahead to Barrow at home on Tuesday night.

He said: "I think it was just stiffness. He's extended his neck muscles which resulted in him being withdrawn from the squad.

"We have injuries and Luke Matheson missing now. When a team is in this situation, it seems to be that everyone has resigned your fate, and you're an easy target. We have to make sure we don't allow any opponent or official to take advantage of us, and I believe that's happened today."

See much more from Keith Hill and Liam Feeney on iFollow Iron.

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