Boss laments ‘worst refereeing performance I’ve ever seen’

Westfield Football Club manager Jack Stapley.
Westfield Football Club manager Jack Stapley.

Westfield Football Club manager Jack Stapley hit out at ‘the worst refereeing performance I’ve ever seen’ after his team’s defeat on Saturday.

The Westies saw a 1-0 lead turn into a 2-1 defeat away to Alfold in Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division Two after having two players sent-off and two confident penalty appeals turned down.

Stapley said: “It was the worst refereeing performance I’ve ever seen from anyone. That’s what cost us three points; nothing to do with how the players have played.

“I just don’t understand what referees get out of it. It was ridiculous. He spoke to everyone like they were a piece of dirt and when I asked him questions, he can’t answer them. It was one of those days you look back at and think what’s the point of doing it?

“I couldn’t ask any more of the players and we’ve ended up coming away with no points from a game we should’ve won five or six nil.”

The Westies led for more than 70 minutes before goals in the 80th and 84th minutes consigned them to a defeat.

Westfield had a lot of the play and looked good in the opening 15-20 minutes. Callum Smith put them ahead when he latched on to a lovely pass by Aaron Cochrane between the centre-half and left-back, cut inside and slotted under the goalkeeper.

The visitors had chances to extend their lead before Alfold enjoyed a strong 20-minute spell, during which Sam Winter and Jake Adams, who had a fantastic game in goal even though he usually plays in midfield, made goal-line clearances.

Westfield decided to sit a bit deeper during the second half and they went down to 10 men when Zak Hurst was shown a second yellow card supposedly for kicking the ball away, although Westfield manager Jack Stapley said he played a five-yard pass to Regan Smith at the very moment the referee blew for a foul.

Westfield switched to a 4-4-1 formation with Scott Ramsay up-front on his own. They thought they had retaken the lead when Callum Smith put the ball in the net only for the referee to pull play back for a foul on Regan Smith near the halfway line.

They away team was further incensed when Ramsay seemed to be taken down by the goalkeeper as he rounded him, but the referee awarded a goal kick rather than a penalty.

With Westfield feeling every decision was going against them, they had a second appeal for a spot-kick turned down. Regan Smith was fouled from behind, inside the box according to Stapley, but the referee gave a free kick several yards outside the area.

Westfield began to drop deeper as they couldn’t keep hold of the ball and Alfold were getting in behind them down the wings.

Alfold equalised through Jamie Wanstall and then grabbed a winner via Andy Sullivan. Both goals came from balls over the full-back which were cut back and knocked in from six yards.

Westfield’s misery was made complete when substitute Joe Page was shown a second yellow card for a mistimed tackle.

Westfield: Adams; Gravett, Winter, Parsons (Stoyanov), Durrant; McGurk, Cochrane (Page), Hurst; C. Smith (Barrett), R. Smith, Ramsay.

Westfield, who are 10th in the table with 11 points from nine games, have picked up three red cards in their last three fixtures.

“Discipline hasn’t been fantastic this year,” said Stapley. “We’ve got some fiery characters - they all mean well but take it too far sometimes. We spoke about it in the week. I can’t really blame the players on Saturday; it was just frustration that built up so much.”

Westfield will begin a trio of cup fixtures with a Hastings & District FA Intermediate Cup first round tie at home to Macron East Sussex Football League Premier Division side Hawkhurst United this coming Saturday. Kick-off at The Parish Field is 2.30pm.

“Losing becomes a habit and we’ve got to break out of it,” added Stapley. “Saturday’s game is a banana skin waiting to happen. They’re not a bad side by any stretch and they will be right up for it.

“We’ve got to make sure we match them all over the park. We’ve got to grind out a result one way or another. It’s a cup competition we will look to win and a competition we will look to give some people an opportunity in.”

Asher Grindle, Joe Page and Zak Hurst are all suspended, and Scott Ramsay is unavailable. Allan McMinigal should return, though, and Josh Barrett and Slav Stoyanov may well come into the side.