Rotherham United boss Neil Redfearn has pointed the finger at referee Keith Stroud as he prepares to face Bristol City without his leading man.
Stroud is the official who sent off new striker Leon Best last weekend and the Millers manager has accused him of “inconsistency” and getting his decision “badly wrong”.
Redfearn claims Stroud originally said he red-carded Best against Leeds United for an alleged headbutt before changing his mind and citing an elbow in his after-match report.
“The problem I had was that the referee said to Leon Best when he was sending him off that he was sending him off for a headbutt,” Redfearn said. “Eric Black (assistant boss) went in to see the referee after and the referee stuck stuck by his story. Yet in his report he sent him off for an elbow. There’s no consistency there.
“The linesman said there ws no malice in the challenge. The referee consulted the linesman and sent off Leon for a headbutt. They got it wrong. They got it badly wrong.”
Best misses out today against the Robins this afternoon at AESSEAL New York Stadium as he begins a three-match ban.
The 29-year-old was playing well on his debut when he bloodied the nose of Leeds left-back Gaetano Berardi with a challenge involving in his elbow. In the skirmish that followed, he clashed with opposing centre-half Giuseppe Bellusci, sparking claims of a headbutt.
Redfearn, who has spoken with David Allison, the head of referees at the Football League, believes Best’s use of the elbow was unintentional.
“I think the thing is with head collisions and elbows and things like that, if you’re in the player’s eyeline than there’s an argument for it being deliberate,” he said.
“But Berardi was not in Leon Best’s eyeline. He’s actually behind Leon, to one side of him. If you look at when the ball comes in, Leon actually steps across and puts his arm across to start shielding the ball and Berardi steps into it. “
Berardi also received his marching orders as he reacted by pushing Best to the ground with both hands
Redfearn said Best was “devastated” by the sending-off and the damage he had done to the Swiss defender’s face.
“I don’t think the boy had done it on purpose. He was quite upset that Berardi got the injury that he got,” he said. “I don’t think he’s intentionally gone out to do it.
“Now it made a mess of Berardi’s nose and that’s unfortunate. It looked probably worse than what it was. But the reaction of Berardi and other players is probably what got Leon sent off. I don’t think the referee saw it, if I’m honest.”
Redfearn will have to find a new partner for centre-forward Jonson Clarke-Harris against Steve Cotterill’s side as he looks to build on last week’s 1-0 victory which lifted Rotherham off the foot of the Championship table
It’s bad timing because the difference Leon made was unbelieveable,” he said. “If you look at the difference in Jonson Clarke-Harris’s performance and us going forward and what it meant to us as a team ... he’s going to be a big loss. To lose him for three games is a big miss.”
Centre-half Farrend Rawson is nursing a groin problem which required treatment back with parent club Derby County, but the loan teenager is available for selection.