Jones felt referee Heywood didn’t need to give a penalty

James Collins sees his penalty saved by Ross Flinders
James Collins sees his penalty saved by Ross Flinders

Luton Town boss Nathan Jones couldn’t understand why referee Mark Heywood didn’t play an advantage to allow Olly Lee’s goal to stand against Cheltenham this afternoon.

Early in the second half with the Hatters trailing 1-0, they looked to have restored parity when Lee volleyed home at the back post from James Justin’s cross.

I can’t say too much about the referee but I never come off the pitch with this referee and say you’ve had a really good game there.

Nathan Jones

However, official Heywood already had the whistle to his lips, blowing for a foul on striker James Collins by visiting defender Will Boyle and awarded the hosts a spotkick.

To make matters worse, Collins saw his penalty saved by Ross Flinders as Mohammed Eisa made it 2-0 soon after, before Town fought back with goals from Luke Berry and Alan Sheehan.

It’s not the first time Heywood has courted controversy either when in charge of Luton, with Jones given a one-game touchline ban and fined £1,000 for comments made to the officials during the 1-1 draw at Wycombe in January 2017.

He also sent off Carlisle’s Michael Raynes in a clash at Kenilworth Road during December 2016, a decision that was later overturned on appeal, as speaking afterwards, Jones said: “The game turned in that three minute period, that’s really why we haven’t won the game.

“I can’t say too much about the referee but I never come off the pitch with this referee and say ‘you’ve had a really good game there.’

“But all he had to do was wait. The only reason we’re talking about it is because we’ve missed a penalty.

“We still should score that penalty and then marked him down at the end of the game, but he’s only got to let it go a second and it’s a goal.

“He didn’t need to give the penalty, if he waited, saw how it panned out, as he’s given it as he’d seen the shirt grab.

“He knows it’s a pen so let it pan out but he didn’t and it’s disappointing.”

Cheltenham boss Gary Johnson could feel some sympathy for his opposite number, as he said: “I didn’t think that was a penalty. I’d be really upset if I was the Luton manager and had the ball in the net.

“But he’d already blown and so he’s got to give the penalty because he’d already blown before the ball went into the net.

“Of course, I’d be like Nathan, I’m sure he was very upset. I didn’t look at him.

“I thought the second save, from when the ball rebounded back to him, was unbelievable. I thought that was absolutely magnificent because he had to be brave. How he’s got it over the bar I do not know.

“We can take positives from it. I’m not going to be going home and kicking the cat, if I had one.”