Leamington boss Paul Holleran is hoping not to run into referee Thomas Kirk again this season after seeing at least four key decisions go against his side in their 2-0 home defeat to Boston United last Saturday.
Brakes had three strong penalty claims turned down, while conceding a debatable spot-kick of their own as their seven-match unbeaten run came to a shuddering halt at the hands of their relegation-threatened visitors.
And while Holleran was keen not to attribute the defeat to the performance of the match official, he clearly believed it had a major bearing on the outcome.
“We’ve had him before,” said Holleran. “He’s a young boy and he takes things personally.
“He seems to have taken a dislike to one or two of our players.
“Our players have got to be better at managing him but I do get the impression he has some kind of issue with us.
“With the cautions we got, the decisions that went against us, the decisions we didn’t get, it certainly seemed to be that way.
“He doesn’t manage players well and we have asked not to have him.
“But listen, the referee has nothing to do with us defending poorly and Tony (Breeden) missing a cross.”
Four home players picked up yellow cards as frustrations threatened to boil over in the first half and Holleran said it was something he had spoken to the players about before.
“They’ve got to stay in control of their emotions and channel their aggression.
“We talk about that against the high calibre of teams when you might be on the back foot and for whatever reason they failed to deal with this chap. But you have to question whether he should be reffing at this level.”
Brakes will look to bounce back tomorrow when they make the long trip north-east to face Blyth Spartans.
Spartans are blowing hot and cold this season with ten wins and seven defeats from their 17 National League North fixtures.
However, in Dan Maguire they boast one of the league’s in-form strikers and Holleran knows his side will need to be switched on from the kick-off.
“We’ll have breakfast on the way up and get there as early as we can.
“We’ll have to start the game better (than last Saturday).
“They’ve got one of the best home records in non-league football and a formidable forward line but we’re well aware that if we set ourselves up right we can cause problems for anyone.”