City boss Paul Lambert wasn’t mincing his words after a controversial 3-1 defeat at Tranmere angered the Scot on so many levels.
For starters, Rovers took a sixth minute lead via a debatable Ian Thomas-Moore penalty after the ball struck Darel Russell on the arm, but the real sickener was their third, with Craig Curran clearly handballing it, ironically, before slotting home from 10 yards.
Sandwiched in between that was the dismissal of Fraser Forster for bringing down Thomas-Moore in the box, before the same player netted his second spot-kick, but in fairness, referee Eddie Ilderton probably got that one right.
Skipper Grant Holt pulled one back in the second period but it was too little too late and there was even more drama when Lambert himself was sent to the stands after coming onto the field of play and kicking the ball to Michael Nelson.
That, in itself, isn’t an offence but the official added foul and abusive language to his crime sheet and for good measure, Football Operations chief Gary Karsa was dismissed for the same reason.
All in all, it was not a good night at the office – the only saving grace being Millwall’s 1-1 home draw with Brentford – and Lambert let the officials know his feelings via BBC Radio Norfolk afterwards.
“I thought the officials were really poor, I’ll probably get into trouble but they were. I thought some of the decisions were incredible, I don’t know where he’s got them from.
“He sent me off just for kicking the ball – I never said a word. I just gave it back to our player so that he could take the free-kick quickly and that’s what he’s sent me off for. He was abysmal.
“I thought the game was too big for him. With the cameras being here, he wanted to make an issue of it.
“Tonight was about one man only and that was the referee. But we’ve got a great chance on Monday to bounce back and the crowd will be right behind us.”
In amongst all the chaos was actually a half-decent performance from the league leaders and to be fair to Norwich, they kept probing until the final whistle.
They’ve played worse and won this season and City will have a big opportunity to put things right on Easter Monday when League One whipping boys Stockport come to town.
“In the second-half I thought we were excellent, even the first-half I thought we had a lot of the ball,” continued the Canaries boss.
“The good thing is we never capitulated, we kept on going and the crowd saw that; they stayed with us and thankfully we’ve got another game on Monday.
“I wasn’t particularly disappointed with the way we played because I thought we passed it and created chances. Grant [Holt] has had one cleared off the line and the lads have given me everything again.
“I’ve got to give them credit for not giving up and we’ll bounce back strongly on Monday. It’s another tough game but we’re at home and even though we got beat tonight, we’ll pick ourselves up and go again.”
As far as a possible appeal on Forster’s sending off goes, Lambert knocked that one on the head immediately. After the process failed them after Russell saw red – harshly – against Southampton at the end of February, City won’t be going down that road again.
“It’s very unlikely because we haven’t won an appeal yet. Darel’s went against us so I don’t imagine that we’d win Fraser’s.”
City: Forster; R Martin, Doherty, Nelson, Drury; Hughes (McNamee 74), Russell, Lappin (Rudd 11); Hoolahan; Holt, Elliott (C Martin 46). Subs not used: Johnson, Whitbread, Rose, Gill.
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