EVESHAM United boss Paul Collicutt defended skipper Linden Dovey over the challenge that led to three red cards on Saturday and insisted: “He won the ball.”

Collicutt admitted to having a “horrible feeling” referee Sarah Garratt had seen Dovey’s first-half tackle on Salisbury’s Elliot Wheeler differently with more misery for both teams soon following.

United’s Archie Haskayne and Salisbury’s Owen Howe were also dismissed for a coming together before play got back underway.

Initial reports claimed Howe had pushed Garratt but Collicutt said the match official had told him Haskayne and Howe had been given their marching orders for going “head to head” during the fracas.

Collicutt was also irate over the Salisbury scoring five minutes into the time added for the incident and the award of a second-half penalty that ultimately sealed Evesham’s fate in a 2-1 defeat.

“There seems to be something come up every time we play Salisbury and I feel we haven’t had the rub of the green when it comes to decisions,” said Collicutt.

“Linden went in for a tackle and won the ball fair and square. The pitch was wet and with the momentum, he caught the lad.

“It looked worse than it was. In my eyes he won the ball but the referee blew up straight away. I turned to Gerry (Oldham, assistant manager) and said ‘I have a horrible feeling she is going to send him’.

“He told me not to be silly. It went on and on, it must have taken five or six minutes at least with their trainer coming on.

“She consulted her assistant and a few minutes down the line she brought out the red card.

“It was just in front of our dugout and we had a good view. I think a lot of people in the ground would have agreed it was a fair challenge.

“My players reacted to the red card and with that, their players reacted. I was focused on Linden and the referee while there was a fracas between Archie and their number nine (Howe).

“After the game, I was told their number nine had gone to grab hold of the referee, that Archie had stepped in to try to stop it and with that they went head to head.

“I didn’t see all of that so when I saw the red for Archie I had no idea where it had come from.

“It was a very iffy penalty. Garyn (Preen) caught the back leg of the lad who went down so easily it was untrue.

“We responded within a minute and had a right go. We ended the game with two players at the back, pretty much a 2-3-3, because we knew we had to get something out of it.”

On the feedback offered by Garratt, Collicutt added: “She was talkative about it and said she would love to see a video if we had one. She thought she was right and explained herself.

“I didn’t agree and it was not a case of me struggling to see, it was right in front of the dugout. We reacted because we could not believe she got out the red card.

“For the second time in three games against Salisbury, a decision has helped to change the game in the favour of our opponents.

“It is history now, though. We have to get on with it and focus on the play-offs.”