FUMING Wanderers boss Gareth Ainsworth said the decision to disallow a late goal from Dean Morgan ‘killed’ his team and the fans.
Blues’ top scorer turned the ball home from close range in the tenth minute of stoppage time against Northampton Town after Leon Johnson nudged the rebound forward from keeper Matt Duke making an outstanding stop to keep out Max Kretzschmar’s free kick.
Ainsworth said he’d been told by the match officials it was Morgan who’d been flagged offside, with replays suggesting the forward was onside.
It led to Ainsworth claiming match officials in the Football League should be professional – a call he made earlier in the season after Wanderers had a goal controversially chalked off during their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy elimination by Swindon Town.
He ranted: “It was a goal. It’s legitimate, which is the hardest thing to take.
“The officials have got to be better. They have just killed 3,500 Wycombe fans, and myself, and the players.
“It was a fantastic save by the keeper, the rebound’s fallen to Johnno and as Johnno has shot, the linesman’s told me coming off the pitch that’s the offside. Looking at the replay, Dean’s not offside. It’s a totally legitimate goal.
“We had one up at Accrington earlier in the season and we could be looking at that saying that’s four points we’ve been robbed of and we’d be on 51 points, which would be nice.
“It’s a tough job. I think they should be professional, they should all be professional across the board. There’s enough money in football to do that.
“They talk about all these millions of pounds in the Premier League – let’s get these officials professional from the Premier League right down to League Two. We’re a professional league and you have part timers doing the officiating. It’s not right. That’s my two penneth and I’m sure people will have their opinions.
“We have to accept it because the referee’s given it. They need to be better at this level. I thought [referee] Andy D’Urso did OK, but the linesman has cost us a couple of points today that could be huge at the end of the year.”
With so much at stake in a knife-edge encounter few chances were created at either end, with Wanderers having more of them despite Northampton having more of the possession.
The visitors took an early lead in bizarre circumstances as player of the season contender Matt Ingram chose the worst possible moment to make his first error of the campaign, fumbling a Ricky Ravenhill cross into his own net.
A thumping header from Aaron Pierre – who was later taken to hospital to have a shoulder injury X rayed following a heavy fall – restored parity nine minutes later and Ainsworth was pleased at the response of his players.
He said: “We get penned in for 15 minutes at the start of the second half, which was always going to happen, but we started getting the ball down and playing some good football.
“We hit the bar twice, had one cleared off the line, a couple of penalty shouts – in a boxing match we’d have probably won on points.
“It was uncharacteristic from Matt Ingram and I don’t want to speak too much about that because he’s kept us in games and he’s young. It was a big, big game and he’ll learn from that. After that we protected him well, he came for some great crosses.”
Pierre’s injury, coupled with the first half withdrawal of Paris Cowan-Hall after the winger inflamed his ankle injury again, meant Ainsworth only had one more change up his sleeve going into the game’s final quarter and the Blues boss admitted he would have liked to have brought Kretzschmar on to change things earlier.
He said: “Max is definitely a game winner, a game changer. In my ideal thoughts Max could have come on very much earlier but losing Aaron Pierre and losing Paris first half totally changes your plans. You’re left with one sub, then you’re thinking if you get another injury – Matt McClure was saying his hamstring was sore – I had to take a gamble and take Jo off, who I thought did really well for us.
“Max maybe comes on earlier and changes something, but he also had a huge impact. Great save from the keeper and by rights we should have the three points. That would be Max’s big contribution. The linesman’s robbed him of that, robbed us of the points.”