Margate manager Mark Stimson claimed referee Joseph Dann-Pye admitted to making a mistake in the build-up to Dulwich Hamlet’s opening goal to him - midway through the match!
Fourth-bottom Gate’s Isthmian Premier relegation fears worsened on Saturday, as they went down 4-1 at home to their much-improved visitors.
Dulwich’s top scorer Luke Wanadio bagged a hat-trick at Hartsdown Park, skipper Jerome Binnom-Williams also on target for Hakan Hayrettin’s men, to leave an 18th goal this season in vain for Margate striker Steve Cawley.
But a controversial incident led to Hamlet’s first goal, as new Margate midfielder Dominic Vose appeared to be fouled - only for Mr Dann-Pye to give the free-kick the other way - with the visitors taking full advantage in front of a crowd of 827.
Stimson, still yet to earn his first win since he took charge in December, said: “I’ve even had the referee - halfway through the half - come over to me and apologise that he made a massive mistake.
“You can laugh but I don’t laugh about it! That’s not acceptable at the end of the day. That’s a major decision that he’s got wrong.
“They take the free-kick and score a goal from it - it’s a free-kick to us. He’s even admitted that to me in the game.
“Straight away, I don’t know what I’m dealing with in the middle of the pitch today if he can make a mistake that’s that blatant. But that happened.
“Then, they scored their second goal and, at half-time, we had a mountain to climb. They score to make it 3-1, then we pull one back and create another chance after a great passage of play.
“We create a good opportunity and the young lad (Toby Stevenson) has gone in, and he’s missed with a header from four yards.
“They then just kick the ball down the middle, flick it on, go wide, it gets a deflection and goes in for 4-1. So, I wouldn’t say so much that they outclassed us.
“They’re a powerful team. It’ll be interesting to see where they finish.
“At the start of the season, with the group they have got, you probably would have thought they would finish in the top three.
“At the moment, they’re not doing that - but they might have woken up a bit after Christmas and started to put some performances in.
“We’ll wait and see.”
Asked if Mr Dann-Pye’s apology had been of much comfort, Stimson replied: “It’s not nice at all.
“It’s worse, if I’m honest. I wish he hadn’t said anything!
“It just shows you that it was a massive mistake and it led to a goal.
“I have to deal with it, the team has to deal with it and the club has to deal with it. It’s not acceptable - but we have to take it on the chin.”
Stimson also explained why he would not be too hard on his players for not defending the free-kick - taken inside Dulwich’s own half - better after the controversial call by the official.
He stated: “If you’re a player out there, and if you have played the game, you’re really frustrated because it’s a foul to us!
“We should be kicking the ball towards their goal and they’re kicking the ball to our goal.
“Yes, the team should defend better but in those seconds - unless you have experienced it - you don’t really understand it.
“I’ve experienced it. I’ve been on both ends.
“You could see that our players today just couldn’t get their head around it being a free-kick to them.”
There were some small green shoots for Gate and Stimson to cling onto despite the defeat, Cawley and ex-Charlton defender Toby Stevenson going close to making it 3-2 after Cawley’s strike before former Dartford, Dover and Folkestone wideman Wanadio completed his hat-trick to seal the win.
“There were a couple of good passages of play and a few decent performances - and a couple of indifferent performances,” noted Stimson, who has also brought midfielder Yaser Kasim and winger Kadell Daniel back to the club.
“With the left-back (Stevenson), we knew what was going to happen there because he hasn’t played for six months. The young right-back (Archie Panyi) was playing in his second game since pre-season.
“So, we knew the two full-backs would tire and struggle, especially against two good players of Dulwich’s quality on the wings.
“We just have got to keep believing.”
Gate visit second-placed Kent rivals Chatham next Saturday.