Bournemouth manager Jason Tindall was furious with referee David Webb for sending off midfielder Jefferson Lerma in his team’s 1-0 defeat at home to Luton.
The Hatters earned their third win in four games thanks to Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s goal midway through the second half after Lerma had been sent off in the 25th minute for leading with an arm in an aerial challenge with Tom Lockyer which left the Luton defender with a cut that required heavy bandaging.
“I thought it was an outrageous decision. I think everyone that would have seen it would agree with that. I can’t believe the referee would come to that conclusion,” said Tindall.
“I thought we were doing well until that point and that we were by far the better team and that we would have won that comfortably.
“It was a pivotal moment. Jeff’s gone up for a header, one of their lads has knocked him off balance and he caught him with his trailing arm.
“When a decision is that blatantly wrong, you can’t help but be angry and even at half-time the lads couldn’t believe the decision,” added the Bournemouth manager.
The defeat leaves the Cherries trailing the automatic promotion places whilst Luton climbed into the top half of the table with victory at The Vitality Stadium.
“If I was Jason I’d be a little bit narked about it but these things happen. The fact that it was a raised elbow, you can understand why the ref’s given it,” said Nathan Jones of the incident.
“These are a fantastic side at this level. They’ve been recruiting for the Premier League so we knew we’d have to really do well to get something here.
“It was a wonderful, wonderful win for us. To get four points from Bournemouth this season, however you get it, is brilliant.
“They probably had about £200 million on the pitch there and about £1.5 million of it was us,” Jones added.
The first half was played at a frenetic pace but both sides were short of a cutting edge.
Luke Berry’s misplaced back header was seized on by Josh King but he could not make a firm connection with his volley.
Later in the half, Simon Sluga saved from King at the near post after neat approach work from the Cherries.
After few chances in the first half, Bournemouth were thankful for three brilliant saves from Asmir Begovic at the start of the second.
First he denied Glen Rea with a brilliant reflex stop before a double save to deny first Berry and then Dewsbury-Hall.
Bournemouth were reduced to attacking on the break and they almost took the lead when King broke down the left flank and slid the ball into the path of Dominic Solanke whose goal-bound shot was brilliantly diverted round the post by the recovering Dan Potts.
Jones had switched to a back four at half-time to allow an extra man to push into midfield after starting the game in a 5-3-2 formation.
The Hatters took advantage of their extra man as former Bournemouth forward Harry Cornick teed up Dewsbury-Hall on the edge of the area and he buried a shot into the far corner.
Tindall made a raft of changes in an attempt to get back into the game but Luton were relentless in their work rate and organisation.
The usually free-scoring Cherries have struggled to break down both Millwall and Luton this week and the outcome of their quest for promotion is likely to depend in large part on their ability to find a way past teams who set up to frustrate them.
The return of King ought to have provided a welcome tonic for Tindall but the Norway striker looks a shadow of the player who was linked with Manchester United in last January’s transfer window.
The Hatters can now look upwards after a good run of results ahead of a tough-looking trip to Brentford on Wednesday.
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