NEALE Cooper was left frustrated with Saturday’s match officials as Hartlepool United were robbed of a deserved point against Sheffield United.
It took a dubious spot-kick 11 minutes from the end to separate the sides as Ched Evans, having toppled during a 50-50 tussle with Sam Collins, stepped up to tuck away the resulting penalty, awarded by the referee’s assistant.
And man in black Carl Boyeson invited further ire from the home support when Peter Hartley was then shown a second yellow card for dissent, the defender having allowed his frustration to get the better of him after the soft award of a free kick.
“It was a harsh loss for us, very much so,” said Cooper, who will now be without Hartley for Friday’s trip to Colchester United.
“I thought the decision was wrong – they (Collins and Evans) both slipped and the linesman has given it.
“Both Danny Wilson and Ched Evans said it wasn’t a penalty.
“So it’s frustrating because Sam was excellent on Saturday as well.
“We then went down to 10 men and they had to go into the corners to hold on and kill the game.
“But decisions went against us and Peter’s red card was down to frustration.
“All I can ask for, however, is full effort and I definitely got that.”
Indeed, after a slow start it was Pools who carved the better of the openings and Andy Monkhouse should have scored before half-time when his close-range effort was blocked on the line.
The same player went close with a first-time strike after the break and Blades’ keeper Steve Simonsen had to be on his guard to flap away Ryan Noble’s floated effort.
Even after the visitors stole the lead, substitute Adam Boyd came within inches of drawing parity and Tony Sweeney fired narrowly wide in stoppage time.
Cooper added: “We were sharp in the wider areas and the forwards did well.
“Andy Monkhouse did very well and the midfield worked away.
“Muzza (Paul Murray) got caught a couple of times in possession, but on the whole was very good and I couldn’t fault anyone.
“It was a huge bonus to have Luke James back and both he and Ryan caused them problems.
“It was encouraging that we created so many chances and even after they scored, Sweens has had a great one which he probably should have scored.”
Meanwhile, Pools have confirmed Hartley will only be suspended for one match.
The centre-back went into Saturday’s game on eight bookings (10 invokes a two-game ban), but those yellows will be wiped clean after this weekend meaning that, when he does return against Brentford a week today, he does not run the risk of picking up another suspension.
Hartlepool: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood, Sweeney, Murray (Boyd 81), Liddle, James (Brown 73), Noble, Monkhouse. Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Humphreys, Baldwin. Sent Off: Hartley (85). Booked: Monkhouse, Hartley, Collins.
Sheff Utd: Simonsen, Lowton, Collins, Maguire, Hill, Williamson, McDonald, Doyle, Quinn (Williams 90), Evans, Cresswell (O’Halloran 73). Subs Not Used: Howard, Hoskins, Beattie. Booked: Collins. Goals: Evans 79 pen.
Att: 5,825 Ref: Carl Boyeson (E Yorkshire).