WORTHING Football Club manager Chris White launched a seething attack on the match officials after their play-off hopes suffered a major blow on Saturday.
Rebels, who had to play 45 minutes with 10 men, only just failed to fight-back from a 3-0 half-time and dropped out of the Ryman League Division 1 South play-off places with their 4-3 defeat at Ramsgate.
It means that things are now out of Rebels’ hands as they dropped to seventh in the league, after wins for Maidstone saw them move into the final play-off place in fifth, and Godalming also leapfrogged Worthing and went sixth.
It will be tough for Rebels. They have to win their final two games – away at Hythe Town on Saturday, and at home to Crawley Down next weekend, the latter which defender Glen Woodburn will now miss after his red card on Saturday – Rebels’ fourth dismissal in as many games.
They will also now have to rely on both Maidstone and Godalming slipping up. White, however, is remaining optimistic and believes stranger things have happened.
Despite this, he pulled no punches when summing up the officials’ performances on Saturday.
He said: “We played poorly first half, as poorly as we had all season and it’s sometimes hard to criticise officials, but they were just awful.
“I am 51 years old and three stone overweight but I am fitter than they all were, it was shocking.
“It’s four red cards in four games now and I don’t think any were sending-offs but I’m starting to think referees talk about teams, as managers and players do.
“The thing Woody was sent off for, the same thing happened at the start of the second half for us and the ref wasn’t interested. They were just appalling and it seems to be the case at our level at the moment – but then you turn Match of the Day on and it’s exactly the same thing.
“They have the Respect campaign but maybe they should have the respect for us to be fit enough to do their jobs.
“We said at half-time if we were going to go down, we had to go fighting. We made a couple of changes, Ryan (McBride) came off as there was no way we could do it with nine men and that was the way the referee was going.
“We were terrific in the second half and got two back and looked as though we were going to go on to win it, but they pinched one, which put it beyond us, despite us getting another late one.”
On their play-off hopes, White added: “Football is a funny old game we said afterwards. The lads were very down, but I’ve been in the game long enough to know it can change around again just as quick, next Saturday it could all be different.
“We need to refocus and just make sure we win our last two games.”
Rebels felt they should have had a penalty within the opening five minutes after Nick Sullivan, dual-signed with Horsham YMCA, was brought down in the box.
Aaron Quain then nodded a header past Alan Mansfield on eight minutes to give Ramsgate the lead.Rebels’ Tom Lawley lost the ball just before the half-hour mark, which led to Ian Pulman doubling the lead.
McBride and Sullivan went close for Rebels before they found themselves not only a third goal behind, but a man down also just before the break.
Woodburn was attempting to run the ball back to Mansfield, but collided into his man, and the referee sent off the defender and awarded a penalty, which Warren Schulz converted.
Despite the odds, Rebels improved after the break, and Lawley teed up Luke Gedling, who scored on 72 minutes. Mike Huckett then reduced the deficit further with eight minutes left as he beat the offside trap and netted at the second attempt.
As Rebels pushed for an equaliser, Rams added a fourth with seconds remaining as Michael Yianni finished past Mansfield.
Rebels added a third in injury time as Steve Davies was hauled down in the area and Huckett banished his and Worthing’s penalty woes, but it was too late for the visitors to find a vital leveller.
WORTHING: Mansfield; Hurley, Kennett, Woodburn, Metcalf; Lawley, Budd, Huckett, Gedling; McBride, Sullivan. Subs: Piper (McBride 46), Davies (Lawley 86), Charles, Lewis, Sparks.