Central Coast coach Tony Walmsley has hit out at referee Adam Fielding for showing Nick Fitzgerald two yellow cards in the Mariners' chaotic 3-1 A-League loss to Sydney FC.
Soon after Roy O'Donovan took a mere minute to level the score at 1-1 following Shane Smeltz's first-half opener for Sydney, the Mariners fell victim to two controversial decisions in quick succession on Saturday at Central Coast Stadium.
Fielding left home fans seething for citing Fitzgerald twice in two minutes, the second for the attacker's challenge on Sky Blues midfielder Milos Dimitrijevic.
It put the Mariners down to 10 men and on the back foot.
Compounding their frustrations, it occurred straight after the referee's failure to award O'Donovan a seemingly blatant penalty after he was brought down by Sydney goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic.
The events left Walmsley fuming on the sidelines.
"Fitzgerald is one of the most-honest players I've ever worked with," he said afterwards.
"He doesn't dive. So how he ends up off the field ... we can't assume players have taken a dive - you've got to be absolutely certain and Fitzy doesn't dive.
"That was tough to cop that, and the penalty decision was tough.
"Nevertheless, we were pretty resilient after that. At halftime, we reset and frustrated them for a little while.
"Could have got something on the break and then, the second goal obviously, it's difficult to push on from there."
Debate about Janjetovic's challenge, described by Walmsley as "a clear-cut penalty", centred on whether the gloveman had made contact with the ball before his contact on O'Donovan.
Fox Sports pundit Mark Bosnich said it was a "stonewall penalty", while Arnold said Janjetovic told him he'd taken the ball first, though he hadn't seen the replay himself.