Rovers boss Tony Mowbray was critical of referee Anthony Taylor and his team’s defending after his side suffered a 3-0 defeat against high-flying Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
Both sides were reduced to 10 men early in the second half, before a Billy Sharp brace and a David McGoldrick tap in ensured Rovers ended 2018 in disappointment.
The drama started when Chris Basham was shown a second yellow card for a deliberate handball, before Richie Smallwood was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Sharp – a decision that Mowbray feels was the wrong call.
“I think the sad thing about today is that my first thoughts are about the officials,” Mowbray said after the game.
“The referee didn’t manage the game well at all from start to finish. I think today he thought he would come down to the Championship and have an easy day but he mis-managed it.
“He was making random decisions, guessing with his decisions.
“For 70 minutes we were very good and looked like we would be the team to win the game. But I’ve said to the players that it’s too common for us to concede a goal and then quickly concede a second one soon after.
“It’s not the first time that’s happened but I hope it’s the last time. The concentration in adversity needs to be better. For a long time today I thought we were pretty good, but the result is the result.
“I’ve not seen the Smallwood red card incident again, but having seen it right in front of me, I thought Richie caught Elliott [Bennett] rather than their player. I think the referee was looking for any excuse to even things up.”
And afterwards, the boss was left ruing what could have been, with his side dominant prior to Smallwood’s early bath.
“At 10 v 11 there was only one winner. We were being patient, we were getting in behind and putting balls into the box, he added.
“You have the home crowd singing ‘You Don’t Know What You’re Doing’ and then the referee makes a ridiculous decision.
“But I can’t stand here and blame the referee for the three goals that we conceded. That was down to some ridiculous defending. I’ve told them all in the dressing room and that’s come from some pretty experienced players."