FUMING Steve Johnson slammed referee Anthony Biddulph as ‘a joke’ after Weymouth went down 2-1 at home to play-off rivals Thurrock.

The official awarded the Essex visitors a controversial first half penalty after defender Steve Tully was ajudged to have handled in the box.

Former Yeovil Town star Glen Poole converted, cancelling out Danny Byrne’s spectacular opener for the Terras.

Thurrock substitute Kris Lee sealed the points late on, netting with his first touch after coming off the bench.

But the Terras chief was in no doubt who was to blame for the defeat, angrily confronting referee Biddulph after the final whistle.

He fumed: “I’m pleased with my players today because they gave everything and battled hard.

But when you lose the way we have, it is difficult to accept.

“When you play well and get so many bad decisions made against you, it really hurts.

“How the penalty against Tully was given, only the ref knows because it was astonishing.

“Tully was facing towards the linesman and says the ball hit his shoulder, not his arm.

The linesman was looking straight at the incident and didn’t give anything.

Yet the referee blew up even though he was 25-yards directly behind Tully and couldn’t see it.

“That was a cruel blow, coming right on half-time, because we fully deserved the lead and the goal gave Thurrock heart.

Then the referee, who was very poor throughout, made things even worse by not giving us a cast-iron penalty when Nicolas Mirza was brought down in the second half.

“The referee was a complete joke and I told him so at the end.”

Despite the defeat, Johnson praised his new-look side for pushing high-flying Thurrock all the way.

He added: “Considering all the injuries we’ve had and the build up to the game, we were excellent.

“A few of the Thurrock people said to me that we’ve been the best team they’ve faced this season, apart from leaders Grays.

“That’s heartening because it shows we’re on the right track.

What we need to do though is start turning all our possession into goals.

“We dominated for long periods today, but only had Danny Byrne’s stunning free kick to show for it.

“They hardly had a shot in the second half but still nicked it, I feel robbed to be honest.

To beat teams like Thurrock you can’t concede twice, it’s as simple as that.

This defeat is obviously a blow to our chances of getting in the play-offs but, on the upside, quite a few results went our way.

“I’ve told the lads we’ve now got to go and get a good string of results to force our way up the table.”

Johnson said he was pleased with debutants Ludovic Cadima, Nicolas Mirza and winger Darren Wheeler, snapped up from Godalming and Guildford.

“All the news boys fitted in well – especially Nicolas in midfield who showed why he’s rated at Yeovil,” he said.

“Ludo also showed some nice touches and young Darren Wheeler did quite well.

“Darren’s 18, he was previously with Godalming and Guildford and has been training with Aldershot

With Adam Wilde still out injured, we’re light down the left wing which is why he’s joined us.

“Sometimes it takes new players a while to settle into things and, all being well, the new guys will play on Tuesday night when we host AFC Bournemouth in a friendly”.

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