Oldham manager Dino Maamria admitted he was ‘baffled’ by a crucial refereeing decision late in a game which saw his side beaten 1-0 at home by League One Burton.
League Two Latics were dumped out of the FA Cup at the second-round stage thanks to Liam Boyce’s well-taken first-half strike, but five minutes from time the hosts’ manager clearly felt the Brewers ought to have been reduced to 10 men.
Goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara raced out to meet Tom Hamer’s ball forward and handled outside his area with Oldham substitute Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro in pursuit.
Referee Andy Davies brandished a yellow card, with the Oldham staff and supporters screaming for a red.
Maamria, who was himself shown a yellow card in the second half after dropping his mobile phone onto the playing surface close to his technical area, said: “Probably everyone who left the stadium will have been talking about the big decision we didn’t get late on.
“I’m baffled by it. It was a ball in behind, the goalkeeper is in no-man’s land, the ball was going to go over his head for Akpro to score into an empty net.
“The referee had one decision to make, and that should have been to send the goalkeeper off.
“That doesn’t mean we would have gone on to win the game, but that was a big, big, wrong decision.
“The referee made it worse by explaining his decision. He said our player didn’t have control, but how could he have control when the goalkeeper has got the ball in both hands?
“Apparently he’s a Championship referee, but I don’t know how he can explain that one.
“It was a big decision in a big cup tie for us.”
The Brewers struck midway through the first period when Colin Daniel crossed in low for Boyce and he tucked home from four yards.
O’Hara tipped Jonny Smith’s drive onto the post and Smith and Alex Iacovitti fluffed great chances for the hosts in the second half.
Burton boss Nigel Clough said: “We had to work really hard for that, and to be honest I didn’t expect anything less. We should have been more than one goal ahead by half-time, though.
“We were a bit sloppy in the last 15 minutes or so of the first half, and that could have cost us. At 1-0 you can never bank on anything, but in the end we’ve made it through.
“I’m not sure about the handball decision. Kieran was caught outside his box, he’s misjudged the flight of the ball, but I am glad it was only a yellow card.
“We’re through to one of the most exciting parts of the season now, and it’s great for the supporters. We’re in with the big boys now, so who knows who we’ll get?
“We have had to work so exceptionally hard to get through these opening two rounds, though, so maybe the lads deserve a big tie.”