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Gillingham boss unhappy with referee’s bizarre nickname calling

Gillingham boss Steve Evans was left unhappy with the referee’s surprise nickname calling during the League One game against Lincoln City.

The 58 year old had a dismal night on Friday after seeing the performance that referee Samuel Barrott put in.

The match official handed the Imps a ‘contentious’ penalty, but forget that, there was bigger things on Evans’ mind and that was the way he spoke to the players.

Evans, who was booked in the second half, said: “It’s disappointing from my point of view when I hear a match official on a live tv game calling two or three of the Lincoln players by their nicknames.

“I didn’t think he knew their nicknames, he’s in his first season of the Football League, he is running around calling them by their nicknames and I spoke to the fourth official about it. I said it doesn’t look right. That sends me home with a real quandary as I try and sleep.

“I go away with a thing in my head thinking ‘really?’ Nicknames, really? I will get a call or a letter and I will have to say to someone, ‘is that normal?’ If it’s for both sides and you are shouting Demps or Macca (after the Gillingham players), I can see that, but there were surprises on the bench when we are hearing nicknames.

“Why would you run about shouting nicknames. It sticks in my throat that one and I will be speaking to the head of referees about it.

“He made a lot of poor decisions. I am not questioning his honesty but he is a bad referee tonight (Friday).”

On the penalty decision, he added: “I am not surprised he gave it. I wouldn’t have been surprised had it given it two yards out (of the box).

“We had seen a number of incidents in the first half. I had Lincoln City connections say to me, ‘you got nothing’. We got nothing. We don’t expect anything given to us that is not right, but I am watching Vadaine Oliver getting absolutely dragged all over the place for half an hour and not get a free-kick, it is disappointing.

“I don’t expect the referee to get that penalty wrong but that is the game-changer for us. It is a dive.

“You cannot give a penalty for that. That ultimately changes the game because we have to chase, we have to be more expressive, we have to gamble and open up and they have outstanding attacking players.”

Whilst the Gillingham boss was confused with the referee’s nickname calling, he did take a swipe at his players for the other goals conceded.

He said: “People who didn’t watch the game will go away and say, ‘3-0 Lincoln, there you go, that’s Lincoln, that’s not a surprise’. I think they have got away with it a little bit, if I am honest.

“I saw two terrible things, Slattery not matching the runner for the first goal and I see Jack Tucker turn his back when the boy goes to strike for the third goal. I don’t understand that. You take it in the face.

“That is the two things I go away with along with the poor refereeing decision to give away a penalty, which makes it very difficult for us.

“They are a good side but they were second best for long periods. It reminded me very much of the West Ham game in the FA Cup (the last time the Gills were live on Sky) last season when we were dominant for spells but couldn’t take advantage of half chances or getting in good positions.

“They got a goal early on against the run of play but it is a young man learning his trade, Slattery, he doesn’t track his runner, simple. Track the man and they don’t get the opportunity but they take advantage. From then up until half-time, we are by far the better side.

“We spoke about inches and yards and fine margins and not allowing the referee (Samuel Barrott), who had a poor first half performance as far as we are concerned, to have an impact in the game and he does have an impact because that is a dive. They get the penalty, the second goal and we are then trying to get into the game, leaving ourselves light at the back.

“They get a third, we thought it was offside but they tell me it’s on and we accept it. We had made a number of good chances at 2-0, to have a real grandstand finish, but it was not to be.

“I am not going to say the best team has lost after losing 3-0 at home, people will be looking for a straight jacket and to put you off in a van, to go away for a while. I am not going to say that, but for long, long periods we were the better team.

“When half chances came we didn’t have the luck or ability to put them in the net and it is the fine margins that change games. I don’t expect the game to be taken away from us by a penalty like that.”

Michael Appleton, who didn’t have any issue with the referee’s nickname calling unlike the Gillingham boss, said on his side’s win: “The clean sheet was important and big for us. The way we competed against a very physical side which put lots of long balls and crosses into the box was very pleasing.

“We had to compete and we competed really well. Getting the first goal gives you a platform going forward. I was delighted to see how the players battled, got round second and third balls, and then showed a bit of composure when we had to.

“In the heat of the battle, it’s difficult, whether it’s coming in from the centre-halves or the goalkeeper,” he added.

“It looks like you’re massively under pressure but I said to the players at half-time ‘don’t get conned by that’. We know what’s coming, we’ll respect them and understand if we can’t win that first ball, it’s fine, but just make sure we pounce on the second ones.

“They had spells but there was a calmness to us. It helps going ahead in the game and we showed a lot of quality with the [first] goal.”

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