ROGER HERRIDGE was left to rue “key decisions” going against his Binfield side as they suffered a fifth defeat of the season against rivals Bracknell Town, finishing the game with nine men.
Aiming to deliver a first trophy as Binfield boss, Herridge’s charges were level in the Berks and Bucks Senior Trophy final at Windsor on Tuesday night, before a decisive 60-second spell swung the contest.
So often the Moles talisman this season, leading scorer Liam Ferdinand dragged a shot wide just before the hour mark and moments later it was 1-0 when TJ Bohane rounded goalkeeper Liam Vaughan to tuck in the opener.
And the game was killed when Sean Moore was sent off by referee Simon Maynard for two bookable offences in a three-minute spell.
Carl Withers added a second goal from the penalty spot before Michael Walton was also given his marching orders for a strong late challenge which left Bohane crumpled in a heap on the floor.
And Bracknell held on to win their first piece of silverware for 23 years.
While he acknowledges the better side lifted the trophy, Herridge feels his side’s cause was not aided by the officials.
“I think Bracknell edged it,” admitted the Moles manager.
“The disappointing thing for me is that you look at it and Binfield have gone down to nine players and you think there must be an indiscipline issue. But there isn’t.
“What football has taught me is that you need the key decisions to go for you in a game of football if you’re ever going to win it.
“Unfortunately I thought the key decisions, the marginal decisions didn’t go for us and ultimately we’ve lost another cup final, which is disappointing.”
He added: “I think we needed to have a little more confidence in ourselves.
“I think there were two or three of them that actually didn’t believe that we could win.
“They played like they were feeling sorry for themselves a couple of them.
“We had a great chance before they scored when Ferdi has got in behind and then their goal, was it a foul on Jeff Brown? I don’t know. I’ve seen them given.
“Sean’s sending off killed us a little bit. That was really disappointing. I don’t know what his first booking was for but obviously the second yellow was a yellow and he had to go.
“I don’t know about the penalty. It amazes me that a referee can be 10 yards away from
play and not give it and a lino who is 35 yards away from play can see it.
“As for Michael’s sending off, he’s had a poor touch and it’s one of those where they’re both going for the ball and maybe he’s protecting himself a little bit. Nobody likes to see a player get carried off injured.
“That’s the fourth cup final I’ve got to now and we’ve lost. It’s the fourth cup final I’ve got to where we haven’t kept 11 players on the pitch. Is that my fault?
“I certainly don’t get them fired up to be like that but as I say, I thought they were harsh reds possibly.”
As well as the red cards, Binfield gave away numerous free-kicks on the night and Herridge feels side were too easily drawn in to making fouls.
“I think some of my players have got to learn that we’re too honest,” said the manager.
“Every time TJ (Bohane) rolled over, he seemed to get a free-kick.
“I’m not sure they were all fouls. I’m not taking anything away from TJ, he’s a great lad, but he’s a clever forward and he encourages the foul.
“If anything, what we’ve got to learn from our games against Bracknell is to take away the stupid challenges and bookings for dissent. We’re a little bit too honest and we need to be smarter.”
Despite the disappointment of defeat, there were some positives for Binfield, notably the performance of youngsters Harry Lee and goalkeeper Vaughan, who stepped in for the cup-tied Mo Nyamunga.
And Herridge was quick to praise the duo.
“Harry Lee’s a great player,” he said.
“He’s a lad that’s away at Millfield School in Somerset so he boards down there. The situation we were in losing AJ (Luis) was a blow. You Lewis Wiggins came in at left-back for a few games from our development side and then Lew’s pulled his hamstring but Harry’s been excellent.
“Whether he was up against Khalid Senussi or Dan Roberts on Tuesday, I thought Harry did really well against them. He doesn’t really know many of the players and he obviously hasn’t trained because he’s been away but he’s a fantastic player.”
He added: “I thought Liam Vaughan was excellent against Bracknell.
“I knew he was a good goalkeeper beforehand but I’m sure he’s got a big future because he showed out there that he rose to the occasion. I thought he was really, really good.”
With the cup final defeat and the league season already over, all attention for the Moles is now on the Reading Senior Cup.
Herridge’s charges face a semi-final showdown with surprise package Woodcote Stoke Row on Wednesday night at Hill Farm Lane (7.45pm).