Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic has slammed the performance of the referee in his side’s 2-0 loss to Central Coast on Sunday.
The Wanderers fell to their first defeat in six games with Daniel McBreen’s brace enough to see the Mariners move four points clear at the top of the A-League ladder.
But Popovic was far from disappointed with his side’s effort, with the Wanderers more than matching the league leaders despite playing most of the second half with 10 men after Jason Trifiro was sent off for two bookable offences.
While the Wanderers boss had no complaints over his midfielder’s dismissal, he believes Mariners defender Trent Sainsbury should also have seen red for fouling Joey Gibbs when the striker was through on goal.
It was one of just a number of incidents Popovic feels went against his troops at a packed Parramatta Stadium.
“In general his performance was terrible. It was a terrible performance,” Popovic said of referee Chris Beath.
“I’m not talking about the two yellows (for Trifiro), they may have warranted a yellow on each occasion.
“But overall (Beath) was very poor.”
Asked if he felt Sainsbury should have been sent off, Popovic said: “I thought he (Gibbs) was through on goal.
“Obviously he’s (Beath) interpreted it different.
“I’m not sure when the ball’s going towards the goal and it’s just him (Gibbs) and the keeper how he sees that differently, but that’s the decision he made.”
Mariners coach Graham Arnold conceded his side may have got lucky with a few decisions but disagreed Sainsbury deserved to be sent off for being the last defender.
“I think Zac Anderson was getting back quick there as well,” Arnold said.
“Look, maybe we got the rub of the green with the referee tonight.
“But the challenge for us before we came here was to play probably the best team in the league with momentum and the team everyone’s talking about in front of a very vocal crowd.
“The test today was more trying to take the crowd out of the game and try to beat the form team of the competition. They way we performed in front of that I was very happy.”
After four games in just 15 days, Popovic will give his side a few days off to freshen up before preparing for a tough trip to Wellington to play the Phoenix next Sunday.
They will be boosted by the return of skipper Michael Beauchamp, winger Youssouf Hersi (both suspended) and midfielder Mateo Poljak (hamstring injury) for the trip across the Tasman.
“The result was disappointing for us, those fine margins didn’t go our way to change the game but when we had 10 men the boys kept going and we had a few opportunities,” Popovic said.
“I couldn’t fault anyone in our team.
“We move forward and it’s important we’re positive this week.”