Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder was left frustrated with referee David Coote's performance following the Blades' 2-1 defeat to Bristol City in Championship at Bramall Lane on Friday evening.
The Blades had fallen behind in the first-half after Jamie Paterson's superb strike. However, they were able to instantly respond at the start of the second-half through Leon Clarke. Just as the home side looked like they would go on to win the game, John Fleck was dismissed which completely changed everything.
Lee Johnson's side were then able to use the numerical advantage to take control of the game and they got the winner in injury time courtesy of Aden Flint.
Despite the defeat, Wilder felt that his side had enough opportunities to win the game themselves. He said: "It is a cruel game at times. I did not think we deserved the defeat. I think we did more than enough to win a game of football against a side that is doing really well."
He added: "I think we have shown everyone in this division that we are a decent side and when we play as I know we can play; we are a match for anyone."
Wilder disagrees with Fleck's dismissal
The dismissal of Blades midfielder Fleck shortly before the hour mark was without doubt the key moment in the game. It gave the away side the belief that they could go on to secure the three points and stopped the momentum that the Blades had started to build at the start of the second-half.
Wilder certainly was not impressed with the referee's decision. He said: "I think the game has gone if you cannot tackle like that now. He has pulled out of it really. Maybe the referee has been watching too many Premier League games, that is just a proper tackle. I do not think it deserves a red card."
He added: "I did not think John’s was a sending off. It does not go over the line. It was a committed tackle. He has took the ball, he has not followed through. I think we have to be careful. The game has gone if tackles like that are not allowed."
Wilder believes that the referee "had played a part" in the result and that he "said a few words to him" after the full-time whistle. However, he confirmed that he will not be appealing the red card as he feels he would be "wasting ink" after having strong appeals turned down in the past.
All about the "bigger picture" for the Blades
The Blades were very unlucky to come away with nothing to show for their efforts having hit the woodwork a whopping four times in the match. In the first-half especially, the away side really struggled to deal with their threat with Clarke, Mark Duffy and Billy Sharp all having good chances to find the back of the net.
Wilder was keen to point this out in his post-match press conference. He said: "I think we dominated them. I don’t think Simon (Moore) has had one save to make. I did not feel that we were in any danger. I made the decision to go for it. I could have possibly put a defender on but we wanted to win a game of football."
Despite the fact that the Blades are yet to win since influential midfielder Paul Coutts picked up an injury in the 3-1 win against Burton Albion a couple of weeks ago, Wilder believes that this has got nothing to do with their recent dip in form.
He said: "I think it is ridiculous the hype over the Paul Coutts situation. I thought the attitude of the team was first class."
He added: "(The) bigger picture for me is the performance and the reaction. (The) performance levels were up there with what I expect from those players."