NEil Redfearn accused former Leeds United striker Luke Varney of diving to win the penalty which condemned the Elland Road club to a dramatic defeat away at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
Redfearn, United’s head coach, claimed Varney had conned referee Kevin Wright into penalising a tackle from Sam Byram and handing Blackburn the chance of a 2-1 victory at Ewood Park.
Byram and Varney – a player who left Leeds for Blackburn on a free transfer in July – came together inside United’s box on 88 minutes with the game level at 1-1 and Rovers down to 10 men after the sending off of Tom Cairney.
Jordan Rhodes converted the opportunity to earn Rovers an unlikely win with his second goal of the game.
Blackburn manager Gary Bowyer described the penalty as a “stonewaller” but an angry Redfearn criticised Varney for “simulation” as he reflected on an intensly frustrating visit to Lancashire.
“The penalty was a joke,” Redfearn said.
“It’s difficult for referees, I understand that, but these are the decisions they’ve got to get right. What should have happened was a free-kick to us and a yellow card for simulation.
“It has to be said that it was a poor decision. I’ve seen it and looked back at it again but straight away it looked like a dive. It’s not good for football.”
Bowyer defended Varney, saying: “From where I stood, and I haven’t seen in again, it looked like a stonewaller.”
The incident rounded off an infuriating afternoon for Redfearn, whose side opening the scoring with a 33rd-minute goal from Souleymane Doukara and looked to be on course for a first away win since September.
Blackburn created little until the 71st minute when a woeful misunderstanding between Leeds goalkeeper Marco Silvestri and centre-back Liam Cooper left Rhodes clear and free to knock the ball into an empty net.
Silvestri, who commited a similar error at Cardiff City earlier this month, dithered as a through ball approached his box and a late reaction saw his clearance rebound off Cooper and into the path of Rhodes.
Redfearn said: “The goalkeeper’s coming onto that and he should clear it. If you’re coming onto it you’re favourite to clear it.
“It happened before at Cardiff and he’s got to learn from that.”
Leeds were supported by the Championship’s biggest away following of the season on Saturday, some 6,839 in a total attendance of 21,432, and Doukara’s sixth goal of the season took advantage of a positive and aggressive performance in the first half.
Doukara steered home an Adryan corner which dropped him inside Blackburn’s box, giving Leeds the scent of a first away success since their 3-1 win at Bournemouth more than two months ago.
Blackburn’s fightback, however, left United two points above the Championship’s relegation places, in the thick of a group of 10 clubs between 14th place and 23rd who are separated by just four points.
United’s next game is at home to leaders Derby County on Saturday. Derby are three points clear after a 2-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road.
“The performance was very good,” Redfearn said. “I’ve got to take that fact into the next game. It’s building blocks for us at the moment and we’re young. We are prone to mistakes.
“If you look back through the season we’ve been accused of doing well in the first half and then going off it in the second but for most of this game we were good and we passed the ball really well.
“If we want to be successful and climb the table then we’ve got to get across the line but We defended as a team, we passed the ball, we countered and we played the ball out of tight situations.
“The result I’m disappointed with.”