Swindon head coach Ben Garner insisted that more money needs to be invested in refereeing as Jack Payne’s late penalty rescued a point for Town against Harrogate.
Meeting for the first time in either clubs history, Swindon were a goal down for nearly 60 minutes until Payne’s goal from the spot kick maintained his side’s unbeaten run for November.
Garner said: “It was a difficult game and the conditions were tough.
“Harrogate stopped us playing and they were aggressive all over the pitch.
“We got one penalty and should have had three that was frustrating. It was a penalty on Kaine Kesler-Hayden in the first half, a penalty on Jayden Mitchell-Lawson, and a penalty on Ellis Iandolo at the end.
“I’ve watched all of those incidents back and they were all penalties.
“More money needs to be put into the game for the officials. They need to be more full-time and need to be reviewed on what they do and educated on the role.
“We train full-time as professional athletes and a lot of these referees work full-time and they’re part-time on a Saturday.
“It’s not a criticism of them as individuals, it’s the system that needs help and money needs to be put into it first and foremost.
“We need to raise the standard of refereeing.
“I thought we were better second half and we adjusted our shape and were much brighter second half and were better with the ball.
“We were a bit careless at times but created much more second half and were pushing for that winner at the end but couldn’t get it.”
Jack Diamond opened the scoring with a first-time finish through the legs of the Swindon keeper JoJo Wollacott in the 24th minute as the Harrogate striker got the better of on-loan Aston Villa defender Kaine Kesler-Hayden.
Swindon attempted to get back on level terms but were passengers inside their own stomping ground for the majority of the first half as a change in tactics from Ben Garner failed to impress.
Midfielder Alex Pattison rounded off a lengthy passing move for the visitors with his shot in the 74th minute forcing a diving save from keeper JoJo Wollacott.
Swindon looked set for their fourth home defeat of the season as the match entered the final 10 minutes, however the introduction of Jayden Mitchell-Lawson worked wonders for the home side as he was brought down by Lewis Page in the 82nd minute and referee Alan Young pointed to the spot.
Payne stepped up to score with a powerful strike into the bottom left corner as goalkeeper Mark Oxley guessed the right way but was unable to get a hand to the ball.
Harrogate manager Simon Weaver said: “I am so proud of the players. It was a magnificent away performance.
“It was one of the hardest fixtures on the list – away at Swindon – especially when they are in such fine form.
“We deserved at least a point and I think the penalty decision probably cost us more. But I want the main talking point to be the attitude of players and how well we passed it and how well we defended when we had to. We thoroughly deserved to come away with something.
“We closed them down fast and they weren’t allowed to be as comfortable as they wanted to be in front of their home fans.
“It’s a great stadium and massive support but we can go there and perform like that we can go anywhere and believe we can take the points.
“All we want is referees not to buckle under the strain of the partisan crowd. It is bitterly disappointing for the whistle to be blown, I have seen it and it is more conclusive that it should not have been given.
“He slipped before any contact was made, the ref blew the whistle and then checked around him, Sometimes you wonder what is going through people’s minds.”
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