Red cards see uphill task become a mountainous one for Magpies

Ryan Upward took over the ‘keeper’s gloves. Photo: George Tewkesbury

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Maidenhead United would be hard pressed to claim Remy Clerima's first half sending off in Tuesday's 2-0 defeat to Stockport County altered the course of the game, but it certainly made an uphill task more mountainous.

United were already trailing to John Rooney's 17th minute strike for the visitors when Clerima and Will Collar clashed in the County box as the Magpies pressed to get back into the game.

Emile Acquah had just won a free kick on the edge of the box after turning skilfully and driving towards goal, and players were jostling for position in the middle when Collar suddenly fell to the floor and Stockport's players surrounded the referee demanding Clerima be shown a red card. It appears the Frenchman was provoked into kicking out at Collar, who went to ground easily and was booed throughout the rest of the match by the Magpies fans who felt he had conned the match officials.

Ryan Upward, who later came on as a second half substitute for Nathan Blissett and then went in goal after James Holden was shown a straight red card with 15 minutes to play, didn't have a lot of sympathy for his teammate who he felt should have risen above the provocation.

“That’s football,” he said. “You’re going to get provoked. He’s experienced and he shouldn’t be retaliating.

“He’s let the team down by doing it. It’s an uphill battle from there. We were doing ok, but that’s put us on the back foot, and we weren’t able to attack as well after that.

“We were getting back into the game and then there was the sending off. I don’t know what happened. Apparently, there was a stamp, but we’ll have to wait and see it back on the video.”

Upward was also annoyed by the officiating on the night which saw countless decisions go against the Magpies and in favour of the visitors. He said it feels at times like there's one rule for certain teams and another for Maidenhead.

Holden was dismissed for a 'reckless' challenge as he attempted to clear the ball in the 76th minute, but he caught Alex Reid, the scorer of County's second goal, in the process, and the Magpies quickly found themselves down to nine men.

If Devonshire and his players felt they might still force their way back into the game with 10 men, those hopes were dashed when Holden was given his marching orders. Upward took over the gloves and managed to keep the scoreline looking respectable.

“With the James Holden one, the ball has come through and he’s caught the guy on his shoulder and neck as he’s kicked it,” he said. “But the player has put his head down, so I don’t think it was a sending off.

“The referee didn’t have his best game today. They made foul after foul on Emile and Bliss, and I think they only got one booking.

“It sometimes feels like there’s one rule for some teams and another rule for us. Every little thing we do we’ll get a booking or a sending off.”

“I wasn’t sure if Rhys (Lovett) was in the squad, so I had a chat with the gaffer and offered to go in goal.

“I went in and tried to keep a clean sheet, which I did. They didn’t even test me to be honest. We were defending well but the ball just kept coming back because we had no one to hold the ball up. It just didn’t stick.

“We saw the game out quite well to only lose 2-0, but they didn’t have many chances and the red card ruined the game. We started the game well. They scored from nothing, and they also got a bit lucky in the build-up. Manny tried to jab the ball away, but he was backpedalling, and it ricocheted away and then it was three on one.

“We need to look at how we were broken on so easily.”

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