FUNNY; Gary Caldwell was irritated by ‘joke’ rulings as Exeter City were defeated”

“The farewell is a joke. Will takes a hard touch and toes the ball away, and Alfie was bought one there, diving and making the most of it, and the referee fell into the trap and called it a red.”

Exeter City manager Gary Caldwell believed his team’s big moments went against them as they lost 4-1 away to Charlton Athletic. The Grecians had gained an early lead and were the stronger of the two teams at the Valley until two controversial officiating decisions in quick succession cost them the game.

With the score at 1-1, Yanic Wildschut was adjudged to have fouled Louie Watson in the box, and referee David Rock gave the penalty – having previously waived away an almost identical incident in City’s favor. Then, seconds after the restart, Will Aimson was issued a straight red card for a lunge on Alfie May, and while his studs were visible, contact with the Addicks striker appeared limited, if at all with the manager labelling the verdict ‘a farce’.

Exeter were ahead after 20 minutes thanks to James Scott’s cool finish after being given in on goal, but Charlton equalized in the 44th minute when Corey Blackett-Taylor reacted quickest to tap home after Chuks Aneke’s header rebounded back off the crossbar.

May put the Addicks ahead midway through the second half, pouncing on a rebound after Aneke’s penalty was saved by Vil Sinisalo. Things became much worse for the Grecians in a dreadful two-minute span when Aimson was awarded a straight red card for a late lunge on May.

Myles Leaburn clinched the victory in the 78th minute with a powerful strike from the edge of the box, before May added his second of the night late on to complete up the 4-1 victory. City were defeated for the fourth time in their last five League One games, dropping to 10th place, in what was their 13th defeat in their last 16 visits to the Valley. With their third straight home win, the hosts moved up to 14th place and extended their unbeaten streak to five games.

“I’m disappointed with the outcome,” Caldwell admitted. “The game plan was working, but we were making mistakes that were costing us.” The first half could have ended 2-0 since we controlled the game without the ball, caused them serious issues, generated the best chances, and conceded a clumsy goal right before halftime that we didn’t deserve. But the crucial moments in the game went against us and cost us, so it’s not a 4-1 game in my opinion.”

Caldwell was dissatisfied with the refereeing decisions, which transformed the complexion of the game in an instant. He stated there was no consistency in the decision to award the penalty when City did not receive one, and he thought the red card was a ‘joke’ and lambasted May for ‘diving’.

“If it is a penalty for Charlton, then it is a penalty for Vinny Harper first half,” he stated. “It is the same situation when someone comes and there is a gathering.

“The farewell is a joke. Will takes a hard touch and toes the ball away, and Alfie was bought one there, diving and making the most of it, and the referee fell into the trap and called a red. It is never a red card for me. He toed the ball; it wasn’t reckless, but the player took advantage of the momentum and received a red card. Then, 2-1 down and down to ten men, it’s difficult since we were still very much in the game up until that point. The crucial moments were against us.”

Caldwell made four changes to the team that lost 2-0 to Northampton Town at home on Saturday. Jack Fitzwater, Harry Kite, Scott, and Demetri Mitchell returned to the starting lineup, with Pierce Sweeney, Kyle Taylor, Wildschut, and Sonny Cox moving to the bench.

Aneke got on the end of a long through ball and tapped through the legs of Sinisalo to give Charlton the lead in the 20th minute. Fortunately for the Grecians, the offside flag was raised, and the verdict appeared to be right.

City seized the lead two minutes later, in a nearly identical play but at the opposite end of the pitch. Reece Cole scooped up the ball in midfield and threaded it through the lines while Scott remained onside. The attacker closed down on the Charlton goal and blasted the finish beyond Ashley Maynard-Brewer from the edge of the area to make it 1-0.

Scott came close to increasing his lead, but Charlton equalized shortly before halftime. May’s cross from the right was met by Aneke. His header rebounded against the crossbar and into the path of Blackett-Taylor, who blasted home.

Zak Before the game changed, Jules, Mitchell, and Harper all had chances to restore the lead. Only minutes after entering the game, Wildschut caught Watson with a follow through as he attempted to clear a bouncing ball. David Rock, the referee, took his time before pointing to the penalty spot.

Aneke came forward to take the penalty kick. He went low to Sinisalo’s right, and the Finn guessed properly and tipped the effort onto the post. Unfortunately for the Grecians, the ball ricocheted back into the path of May, who tapped into an open net to put Charlton ahead 2-1.

From the start, things went from bad to worse for the Grecians. Aimson took a hard touch and slid in high with his studs up in a frantic attempt to win the ball back. The City captain appeared to win the ball, but on the follow through, he collided with May, and Rock promptly rushed to the back pocket and showed the captain the red card. He contested the decision but was forced to leave, leaving City with a mountain to climb.

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