PANTOMIME season was in full swing for Crewe FC on Saturday - but boss Ian O'Reilly was not laughing.
Crewe lost their first game since early October, but it was the match referee who grabbed the limelight. He sent off three Crewe players and a Monk man, booked 11 others, and played a total of 27 minutes of injury time!
Yet O'Reilly insisted: 'There wasn't a bad tackle in the game.'
Crewe registered two official complaints with the Mid-Cheshire League during the game, with the scores at 1-1 and 2-1 to Crewe.
And they have joined forces with their hosts in making a further complaint, in the knowledge that letters demanding more than £200 in fines will be in the post, not to mention suspensions totalling around three months.
O'Reilly raged: 'I'm gutted. Absolutely distraught. In all my life I have never seen a refereeing performance like it. Both teams were disgusted. We even complained to the league when we were winning.
'None of the lads from either team deserved to be sent off. There was only one questionable tackle, and he missed that! And where he got the injury time from, nobody knows.
'We were comfortable against them with nine men, but what formation do you play when you have eight?
'The lads were magnificent. I just hope the league acts in some way, at the very least to make sure no other teams suffers like this.'
O'Reilly was disappointed before kick-off when Jez Tagg, PJ Hudson and Danny Brazendale failed to turn-up, and his gloom deepened when his side went one down within 10 minutes. A mix-up between keeper Steve Harding and defender Mark Blackburn was punished by an alert striker.
Shaun Gilraine was the first to go, on 20 minutes. Nobody, including the midfielder, was sure why he was sent packing after being involved in a straight-forward challenge for the ball.
But a Dave Hanson header, after a Nick Butterworth cross, brought Crewe level soon after. It turned out to be Butterworth's last contribution, as he and an opponent saw straight red for a minor off-the-ball scuffle.
A delicate Steve Parker lob put them ahead before the break and even when Jimmy Costigan was dismissed for two yellow cards in the second-half, eight-man Crewe were still ahead with 90 minutes on the clock.
But Monk grabbed an equaliser in the final seconds, and Crewe caved as the referee added a further 12 minutes, conceding another two goals. Crewe do not have a game this weekend.