DIPLOMAT Ashley Vincent insisted Worcester City would focus on their own shortcomings despite Heather St John’s “reaping the rewards of a below-par performance from the officials”.

City’s 2-0 defeat was blighted by referee Simon Kavanagh producing some baffling decisions and his inability to effectively deal with the home side’s gamesmanship.

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Replays showed that Worcester should have had a penalty for handball when 1-0 down, goalscorer Kieron Clarke scooping the ball with his hand in trying to prevent Tyreece Ruddock moving away from a tussle for possession.

Heather had Umar Zaman sent off for what looked a soft second booking with 15 minutes to go and coach Chris Knott was also red carded for his part in the home bench collectively berating Kavanagh throughout.

But while manager Vincent felt “hard done by” over two penalty calls – the one that gave Saints a first-half lead and the other his side did not get – he argued his charges needed to be more “streetwise” and effective in both boxes.

“It is a tough one to take,” said Vincent.

“Across the two games we have counted them having four shots on target and they have scored three goals – we have probably hit the target 18 times and not scored.

“It is very disappointing but I could not fault our effort. Making no excuses we were without three mainstays, the boys have put in a shift but I thought we lacked a cutting edge in defence and attack.

“That’s something I have to remedy, even if that means bringing a body that is serious about putting the ball in the net.

“Craig Jones comes back in next week and that gives us three real centre-halves.

“I cannot fault Joel Caines other than the second goal, he had to be in a better position and their lad shouldn’t be able to run in free but overall, he has played four positions in two games and grafted for me.

“When I look over the course of the game there is only one team I want to be involved with and that’s my team but we have been beaten twice by them.

“Fair play, they haven’t lost yet in the league and you can kind of see why but I think we missed big players in big moments.

“I have no qualms with the effort, determination and wholeheartedness of my players, we lacked quality.”

Put to him that Heather had attempted to play on Kavanagh’s off day, Vincent replied: “Football is a human game. You take players, referees and the place you play into consideration.

“They have done that and it is not really the way I want to go about things.

“My one big disappointment was when they went down to 10 men. He (Kavanagh) had made the right decision in sending off their lad and again with their lad from the bench but all it did was slow down the game when we were trying to push and get back in it.

“If we had done that we would probably have been looking to win it but he has killed our momentum.

“For them to score the goal they did after that was criminal and that was down to our performance. I have to look at me and my team, not the referee’s performance, I just thought he could have handled it better.

“With the red cards he was giving all the right decisions but it was taking an enormous amount of time to do. It took bodies away from them but in effect it took more away from us because the stops were massively long.

“I am not blaming the referee by any means. The tough thing is if you haven’t played the game you don’t really know the situation.

“I don’t know the referee’s background but he needed to deal with it quicker to allow the tempo to stay. I think he took that out of the game and by punishing them, he also punished us.

“It took an eternity to get the lad (Zaman) off. He threw his shirt on the pitch, they then throw on water bottles which took an extra 30 seconds, then there was a big melee with the referee deciding he wanted to talk to their bench, then he didn’t, then he sent off one of their staff.

“He held up the game for a minute and a half, two minutes in those two incidents. It took momentum out of the side and while he added it on the end it was too late, it took away what we had at the time.

“I feel hard done by but that does not take away from the fact there were two incidents where we were naïve.

“The first was putting our hands on a player in the box, regardless of the situation, and the second was about lacking concentration (for the second goal). We were set up correctly but then switched off when the play started.

“I felt sorry for Dan Jezeph, he had pulled off a really good save just before that but we left him to the wolves and the lad picked his spot to kill the game.

“It was a game of fine margins that we have been on the wrong end of. It is frustrating and will be a tough weekend for me, my players and my staff but we will get going again.

"We know what we are, we work properly, do our homework and train properly. We have the right ideas and I have absolutely no doubt on any of those fronts.”

On City’s penalty call, Vincent said: “From where I was I couldn’t see it but I did see a genuine reaction. You know when people are trying to get a penalty that might be 50-50 but then you also know a genuine reaction when it should be a penalty.

“I have since been shown footage where the lad has clearly cupped the ball and pushed it away. The funny thing was the referee and his assistant were no more than 20 yards away.

“They should see that and that’s us at 1-1. That’s football, though, big decisions at big times need to be made by big people and they didn’t happen.

“We feel hard done by, of course we do. We wanted that penalty but again I am not going criticise referees week after week because it is the human nature of the game.”

On Heather being awarded a spot-kick, Vincent said: “We go back to situations and people knowing the game.

“Their lad (Clarke) grabbed Joel Caines in the mouth, ridiculously. Kurtis (Mewies) grabbed him to move him away, the referee missed the first one and saw the second.

“The one thing I did say to our boys was you have to be more streetwise in that situation, don’t put your hands on someone in the box because you leave yourselves open to decisions that we would see differently to other people.

“In normal play if he has his hands on him or pulls him down it is a penalty but before that he has his hand in my player’s mouth. That’s ludicrous.

“I think they reaped the rewards of a below-par performance from the officials.”