Oakham United had to watch in horror on Saturday as reports came through that PDFL Premier Division title rivals Coates Athletic were scoring goals for fun against joint bottom of league Leverington Sports.
At the start of the day Coates and Oakham were level on points at the top of the table but Athletic were one goal better off on goal difference.
United didn’t have a game on Saturday so they could only watch as Coates smashed eight past a dismal Leverington side. But on 80 minutes the game was abandoned.
Referee Stewart Francis had no option but to halt the game at Feldale Field after Leverington were reduced to six players by two red cards and three apparent injuries. The laws of the game don’t allow a match to continue when one side has fewer than seven players.
Coates are likely to be awarded the game, but any punishment for Leverington will depend on the referee’s report.
The PDFL office has not confirmed when a decision will be made.
Leverington arrived with 12 players and after just seven minutes captain Darren Rawthorn was dismissed for foul and abusive language towards an official.
As the second half started Leverington left an injured player in the dressing room and they had already used their substitute, taking them down to nine.
Ten minutes later a Leverington player suffered a serious knee injury. On 75 minutes a Leverington player claimed to have suffered a hamstring injury and left the field. Five minute later Nathan Watson was dismissed for foul and abusive language towards an official and the game is abandoned.
Coates boss Andy Lodge accused Leverington of trying to stop the game by unfair means. He was frustrated as his side would have gone three points clear at the top and with a healthy boost to their goal difference.
Lodge, who claims he contemplated quitting the local football scene as a result of what he had witnessed, said: “It was a farce. They had a player sent off early on, picked up one very bad injury and then two soft ones. They thought the game was going to be called off then, but when they realised they had to lose one more player, one of them just started swearing at the referee until the inevitable happened.
“Some of their players were a total embarrassment to their club. They were not hiding what they were up to. I know a few of the lads who used to play for Leverington and they would never have allowed this to happen. It was dreadful to watch and I feel for my lads as they had played well.
“It’s a blow to us as we would have gone clear at the top and we would have had a serious boost to our goal difference. We probably would have scored a dozen if the game had carried on.
“I don’t understand why they behaved like they did. They had an issue with the same referee earlier in the season and they were using that as an excuse, but we did nothing to provoke them.
“We weren’t show-boating or taking the mickey in any way as I would never allow that, It feels like we haven’t had a game and I woke up this morning thinking about packing the game in, it was that bad.”
Matthew Heron (2), Liam Harrold (2), Simon Flanz, Dan Drane and Adam Piergianni scored for Coates with an own goal completing the rout,
The match was watched by Peterborough League representative Darren Fogg, the recently-appointed manager of the competition’s League XI.
Leverington have already accumulated in the region of £500 of fines this season and earlier in the campaign they had 10 points deducted for fielding a suspended player under an assumed name.
Referee Francis sent three Leverington players off during a Premier Division match at Deeping Rangers Reserves in October.
It’s looking like a two-horse race for the title as third-placed Netherton United suffered a second successive defeat on Saturday as Moulton Harrox won 1-0 with a goal midway through the second-half from Matthew Barnett.
Netherton’s woes were multiplied by an injury to player-boss Jon Harrison who has a suspected ruptured thigh muscle.
ICA Sports toppled Netherton the previous week, but were on the wrong end of a shock result as they went down 3-1 at Uppingham. James Binley, Daniel Dumford and Will Thomas got the goals for the Rutland side.
Jake Wilson scored ICA’s consolation goal in the final moments.