Belper Town captain slams standard of referees in Evo-Stik League

Belper's Eric Graves. Pic by: Richard Parkes
Belper's Eric Graves. Pic by: Richard Parkes

Belper Town captain Eric Graves slammed the match officials after a controversial late winner for Bedworth United against the Nailers.

Jamie McAteer headed towards goal for Bedworth with the score at 2-2 after Nailers keeper Mark Rathbone split the initial header before claiming the ball.

But the linesman signalled that the ball had crossed the line, leaving the Nailers skipper to feel like his side were robbed.

A furious Graves said: “At the end of the day we’ve just been cheated out of a point.

“I was right there on the line and the ball definitely did not cross it. It’s as simple as that.

“How the linesman has seen it from 30 yards away with the goalkeeper’s body in his line of view; he just simply can’t have seen it.”

In the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South referee’s have been heavily criticised on a number of occasions.

And Graves feels that the criticism given to the officials is certainly warranted and worries that the FA’s method of promoting them makes it difficult for his side.

He said: “I moan at any referee normally anyway; but the standard has definitely been pretty poor this season to be honest.

“I think any referee that shows a bit of potential end up getting moved up so we get the dregs as it were.

“A lot of decisions seem to be going against us at the minute so that really doesn’t help the cause.”

The Nailers went behind before going 2-1 up thanks to goals from Evan Garnett and Matt Richards.

With ten minutes left it seemed as if Belper had wrapped up all three points. But with two late Bedworth goals, the Nailers went away with nothing.

Graves was disappointed that his side could not hold onto the lead, but praised Evan Garnett for getting himself back on the scoresheet.

The skipper said: “Everyone in the dressing room is gutted; when we are 2-1 up we shouldn’t be throwing it away. Evan’s obviously been looking for a goal for a while and obviously I had to put one on a plate for him to score.

“He took it nicely and if he’d got that one in the first half we could have gone on to win the game by a couple but hopefully he can take that on to saturday.”

The Nailers were without a number of their regular starters; particularly a lot from their regular back four.

The Belper captain thought that his side were unlucky to be missing so many of their big players that could have made a difference in this game.

He said: “We were unfortunate today with Phil Watt was suspended and Gerome Palmer was injured so Mike Armstrong did really well as cover for them.

“Josh Thornton was out as well so we had to change a lot of our back four and we need to get back to being solid.”

The Nailers travel to Leek Town for their next fixture as they look to perform better and get back to winning ways.