A furious John Gregory was gobsmacked that his side failed to get anything out of Tuesday night’s 3-1 defeat at Norwich City in the Capital One Cup.
Reds dominated for large chunks of the game against their Championship opponents and got the score back to 2-1 before Josh Murphy added a late third for Norwich.
However, prior to Murphy’s 92nd minute strike, Crawley had what looked a certain penalty waved away by referee Darren Deadman when Murphy appeared to have handled Izale McLeod’s header on the line.
“It’s 100% a penalty,” Gregory said. “You just look at player reactions and every player wearing a red shirt in the penalty box surrounding the referee. Even the Norwich boys knew it was a penalty.
The referee’s missed it and the linesman’s missed it. The player should get sent-off and the penalty would have been ours, and the momentum’s with us.
“The best team lost, it’s as simple as that. We got the goal back and the momentum swung back to Crawley. It was an excellent first half performance. BJ’s (Brian Jensen) made a mistake but he’s kept us in matches many times this season.
“It didn’t alter how we performed and the more the game went on the more we dominated.
“After we got a goal back we were camped in their half for the remaining 30 minutes.
Gregory rued his side’s lack of cutting edge, following a second consecutive game – the other being Sheffield United - of having a number of chances but not taking the opportunities: “We’ve come to great football grounds with good support and we’ve outplayed them both”, Gregory reflected. “Our biggest problem is not taking our chances. They took three of their four or five chances and we’ve got one goal to show from all our possession. I’ve got to produce goals for the team.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s test against MK Dons, Gregory admits it will be tough, especially following the Buckinghamshire side’s 4-0 win over Manchester United.
“Every season they start of exceptionally well and for some unknown reason they just begin to fall away a little in January time. We’ll have to see if there’s 29,000 there on Saturday but both Richie (Barker) and Karl (Robinson) know the division really well and they’re a good fit for each other.”