Cobblers boss Justin Edinburgh was left to bemoan two controversial refereeing decisions that denied his side what he believes would have been a ‘worthy point’ after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Bolton.
Michael Smith’s well-placed volley put Northampton into a 57th minute lead after they had restricted their promotion-chasing hosts to few chances of note.
But after Bolton applied heavy pressure in response to going behind, controversy struck when referee Richard Clark awarded the home side a penalty for harsh handball against Matty Taylor.
Adam Le Fondre converted before Filipe Morais scored an 82nd minute winner, although only after John-Joe O’Toole had a goal ruled out for offside with the final kick of the game.
“I definitely thought we were worthy of a point today,” said Edinburgh afterwards.
“We’ve gone toe-to-toe with a team who I expect to be there or thereabouts to gain automatic promotion and I can’t fault the players.
“Every man out there today and the ones that came on were worthy and the dressing room is flat and disappointing.
“It comes down two key decisions. If the referee’s guessed for a penalty for them, there’s one blatantly in front of him for us not long after their second goal.
“I know the last goal is offside, I respect that, but he started strong and they eventually wore them down.”
Both Bolton’s fans and players had been screaming for penalties throughout Saturday’s contest, and finally the referee buckled on 76 minutes, albeit having just turned down two strong shouts moments before.
“I think eventually the crowd and the players wore him down,” added Edinburgh.
“That’s such a shame because our players have put their bodies on the line and took the lead and it looked like we might weather the storm and collect the three points.
“But if he’s given one which actually doesn’t even touch Matty’s hand. What he thinks he’s seen he hasn’t seen and that’s the frustration.
“Those are the fine lines that have stopped us coming away from here with what would have been a fantastic result.
“You can’t ask more from the performance in front of an unbelievable performance but it’s not the outcome which it should have been.”
Explaining the second incident further, Edinburgh continued: “There was a handball in their box. I think Keshi challenged one of their players, the ball bounce out and his arm’s in an outward position and it’s hit him on the hand.
“You could say it’s too close but it’s a big call and he’s made a big call for something he hasn’t seen.
“It’s a disappointing end to what was a very good performance.”