Football: FA Vase - Brightlingsea Regent v Bodmin Town January 22
WHEN you're 350 miles away from home in your biggest game of the season, you hope for match officials who don't have much of an influence on the result.
Unfortunately for Bodmin Town on Saturday, three crucial decisions in the opening 15 minutes of their FA Carlsberg Vase fourth round tie went against them as their hopes of reaching the last 16 were ended.
Bodmin boss Darren Gilbert said: "We just didn't have the rub of the green and that is very disappointing for us.
"Brightlingsea are a decent team but they were definitely beatable."
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Bodmin were particularly incensed by Brightlingsea's opening goal after only five minutes scored by Jake Holman after goalkeeper Kevin Miller had dropped the ball from a cross.
Gilbert said: "Kev actually caught the ball, but he was then nudged on the elbow by one of their defenders which led to Kev dropping the ball.
"Their player then had an open goal to score into."
Gilbert added: "Two minutes later, one of their players put a two-footed challenge on one of our players. It was a red card offence but the ref did nothing."
To complete Bodmin's frustration, a Chris Wright effort was ruled out for offside soon afterwards.
Gilbert said: "Seb (Broomfield) played a superb through ball for Wright to run on to. He was one on one with their keeper and put the ball into the net.
"I turned round and couldn't believe the linesman was flagging for offside. I was right in line with Wright and there was no way he was offside.
"I had a word with the ref at half-time but he was adamant he had made the right decisions."
Eastern Counties League premier division side Brightlingsea, who play a step above Bodmin in the non league football pyramid, held their lead for the remainder of the first half but Bodmin were still in the contest.
And they equalised eight minutes into the second half with a superb goal from Broomfield after he had been set up by Danny O'Hagan.
Gilbert said: "Brightlingsea were stunned by our goal. You could see them arguing with each other and for a short spell we had them on the ropes.
"Sam (Matthews) had a chance to put us 2-1 up when we were on top but then they got a second goal and the tide turned again."
Keeper Miller was again centre of attention as he misjudged the flight of a corner and Phil Kelly was left to head into an empty net.
Gilbert said: "Kev blamed himself, saying his mistakes cost us the game, but he has done so much for this club over the last five years to get us to games like this."
Gilbert admitted that Brightlingsea's second goal demoralised his players for a while before they staged a late rally, only to be caught on the break two minutes from time as Josh Gould made it 3-1.
"We had to go for the equaliser at that stage and just got caught," said Gilbert. "It summed the day up for us really."