Published: 21:00, 05 February 2021
| Updated: 10:25, 06 February 2021
Gillingham manager Steve Evans blasted the decision to award Lincoln City a game-changing second half penalty on Friday, claiming the player dived.
Brennan Johnson went to ground after a challenge from Ryan Jackson. City were already a goal ahead and Jorge Grant slotted home the 59th minute spot-kick to leave the Gills with it all to do.
Evans made it clear what he thought about the decision, saying: “I am not surprised he gave it. I wouldn’t have been surprised had it given it two yards out (of the box).
“We had seen a number of incidents in the first half. I had Lincoln City connections say to me, 'you got nothing'. We got nothing. We don’t expect anything given to us that is not right, but I am watching Vadaine Oliver getting absolutely dragged all over the place for half an hour and not get a free-kick, it is disappointing.
“I don’t expect the referee to get that penalty wrong but that is the game-changer for us. It is a dive.
"You cannot give a penalty for that. That ultimately changes the game because we have to chase, we have to be more expressive, we have to gamble and open up and they have outstanding attacking players."
Evans admitted his own players were at fault for the other two goals but a 3-0 scoreline was harsh on a team that competed well against a side who went top of League 1 with the win.
He said: “People who didn’t watch the game will go away and say, ‘3-0 Lincoln, there you go, that’s Lincoln, that’s not a surprise’. I think they have got away with it a little bit, if I am honest.
“I saw two terrible things, Slattery not matching the runner for the first goal and I see Jack Tucker turn his back when the boy goes to strike for the third goal. I don’t understand that. You take it in the face.
“That is the two things I go away with along with the poor refereeing decision to give away a penalty, which makes it very difficult for us.
“They are a good side but they were second best for long periods. It reminded we very much of the West Ham game in the FA Cup (the last time the Gills were live on Sky) last season when we were dominant for spells but couldn’t take advantage of half chances or getting in good positions.
“They got a goal early on against the run of play but it is a young man learning his trade, Slattery, he doesn’t track his runner, simple. Track the man and they don’t get the opportunity but they take advantage. From then up until half-time, we are by far the better side.
“We spoke about inches and yards and fine margins and not allowing the referee (Samuel Barrott), who had a poor first half performance as far as we are concerned, to have an impact in the game and he does have an impact because that is a dive. They get the penalty, the second goal and we are then trying to get into the game, leaving ourselves light at the back.
“They get a third, we thought it was offside but they tell me it’s on and we accept it. We had made a number of good chances at 2-0, to have a real grandstand finish, but it was not to be.
“I am not going to say the best team has lost after losing 3-0 at home, people will be looking for a straight jacket and to put you off in a van, to go away for a while. I am not going to say that, but for long, long periods we were the better team.
“When half chances came we didn’t have the luck or ability to put them in the net and it is the fine margins that change games. I don’t expect the game to be taken away from us by a penalty like that.”