A SOFT underbelly and poor refereeing decisions are hampering Bury Town’s title challenge, according to boss Richard Wilkins.
The Blues’ boss was left fuming with both his players and referee on Tuesday evening after seeing his side squander a two-goal cushion against promotion-rivals Harrow Borough, who eventually ran out surprising 5-2 victors at Ram Meadow (match report on page 132).
“If we had won the game 5-2, I would have put a report in against the referee,” said Wilkins. “But, because we lost, it would look like sour grapes.
“A number of decisions baffled me. Sam Reed was clean through on goal, fouled cynically by the last man and there was not even a yellow card shown.
“In the build up to their equaliser, Sam was fouled, but play was allowed to continue. And the sending off of Ryan Clark was unbelievable.
“The lad was devastated as he walked down the tunnel. He will not be fined by the club because the decision was terrible.
“I have to attend a Respect meeting in Billericay on Monday with other Ryman League managers, but in my book people have to earn respect.”
But Wilkins refused to lay the blame entirely at the referee’s door – slamming his players after a disastrous second half display.
“We didn’t help ourselves,” he said. “The bottom line is our closing down was poor, our marking was poor and our concentration was poor.
“We battered them in the first half and they should have been dead and buried. I need to address why we started the game with a nine out of 10 rating and finished it with a three or four out of 10.”
The second-placed Blues aim to bounce back from their midweek capitulation – their first defeat in six – when they continue their Ryman League Premier Division programme at AFC Hornchurch tomorrow (3pm).
Wilkins is expected to ring the changes, with experienced defender Roscoe Hipperson poised to return.
“There will be a couple of changes as a few of the players have been looking tired,” said Wilkins.
“The ironic thing is that we played our best attacking football of the season on Tuesday. If we can become clinical then a team is going to get a pasting at some point.”
Hornchurch ended Bury’s 2010 unbeaten home record in October, courtesy of a 3-1 victory. The Blues’ squad was decimated due to a catalogue of injuries on that occasion, however, and Wilkins is eyeing revenge.
“We certainly owe them one,” he said. “But before that can happen, we need to stop being naive and learn from the mistakes we made on Tuesday.”
James Scowcroft should make the squad, despite a minor foot problem, but Craig Nurse and Ashley Sloots are both struggling with groin and shin injuries respectively.