Gillingham boss Steve Lovell called for goal line technology to be introduced to the lower leagues of English football after his side had what appeared to be a perfectly good goal ruled out in their 2-1 defeat at Plymouth Argyle.
Former Yeovil Town striker Tom Eaves’ volley crossed the line after it escaped the clutches of Argyle’s debutant goalkeeper Kelle Roos.
But the linesman inexplicably indicated to referee Darren Handley that the ball had not crossed the line, to the amazement of many people sat at the Devonport end of the ground, and the media positioned at the back of the grandstand on the halfway line.
It was incredibly the second time such misfortune had struck Gillingham in the space of four days, after Josh Parker had a goal ruled out under similar circumstances in their 2-1 home Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Oxford United on Tuesday night, when his shot hit the underside of the bar and crossed the goal line but was not given.
A frustrated Lovell said: “I can’t tell if it was a goal, but my forward (Tom Eaves), who is the most honest person you are ever likely to meet, was adamant it was over the line, and Josh Parker was the same with his goal.
“That is twice in a week now, but it is gone so it is no good harping on about it, we didn’t get it, but hopefully we will get two ourselves later on in the season that go for us, and it evens itself out.
“But I can’t understand, if they are using goal line technology at the top level, why can’t we have that at this level?
“It is hard enough for referees now, and I think it should be brought in all the way down.
“I am not just saying it because we have had two goals not given that most probably we should have had.
“It would be easier for the officials then, because they won’t get so much stick, will they, because they can look at it and then there is no argument.
“Most probably for most of that first half, Tom was having a go at the referee saying it was a goal. It just cuts out that grey area. Either it is a goal or it’s not.
“It is something that obviously needs a lot of thought about, but it would save a lot of hassle.”
Argyle boss Derek Adams agreed goal line technology would be a benefit to the game at lower levels, but he could not see it happening any time soon.
“I don’t think anybody was close enough to the incident to say whether it was a goal, and I haven’t seen the footage so I can’t give you an answer on it,” he said.
“Everybody would be in favour of it, but the cost to implement it is too high, and that’s the reason it is not being used at our level.
“It depends who pays the cost. I think it is the clubs that pay the cost of it in the Premier League.
“If the Football Association or somebody else was going to pay the cost, then everybody would have it, but it is a lot of money that could probably be used in a better way.”
Asked if he felt the Pilgrims were owed some good luck after some of the situations that have gone against them in recent times, Adams added: “I think over the 90 minutes we were better than Gillingham, and we controlled the game for large spells.”
As to whether it was a goal or not, new Argyle loan goalkeeper Kelle Roos, who has just returned to action after his own injury problems, perhaps rather gave the game away when asked to explain what happened in the incident.
“I don’t know if the ball went over the line, and for me, I don’t care anymore,” he said.
“At the end of the day, the ref didn’t give it.
“Their player volleyed it, the ball dipped down, I tapped it into the ground and it came underneath me and went behind me. I didn’t know where the ball was so I turned around and I saw it and I grabbed it.
“At that moment I didn’t really look at the line and think whether it was in or out of the goal. I just grabbed the ball and you hope the officials saw it as no goal, and the ref did that and I was happy with that.”
As to the match itself, the two managers had very different opinions.
Lovell commented: “I am disappointed to lose the game. In the second half I thought we dominated the game, no doubt about it, and when we got the equaliser I really thought we could go on and win it.
“We were on the front foot, we were creating chance after chance, and we were getting set plays, and I am just gutted for the boys because they deserved to get something out of it, and not just a point, they deserved to win the game, and I am sure anybody here today would have said the same.”
It was not a view shared by Adams, though, who commented: “It was a very big win for us and three points is massive in this league, and I thought we deserved them over the 90 minutes.
“We allowed them back into the game when we were 1-0 ahead and gave them a stupid free-kick, and they took it quickly and got themselves back into the match.
“They then put us under a bit of pressure, needlessly from our point of view, but to score the late goal is always important.”
Talking about the injury to goalkeeper Luke McCormick in training on Thursday morning, Adams said: “He has injured the same ankle again. He tried to save a shot with his foot in training and I had to go and get a goalkeeper at midday on Thursday. I wasn’t too happy with what happened to say the least, but there is nothing we can do about it.
“Luke has had a scan today and we will look at that and hopefully have an opinion next week on how long he will be out for.”
Adams also revealed that midfielder Antoni Sarcevic has had a scan on a groin injury.
Yesterday’s game was watched by more than 2,500 youngsters from the Devon Junior and Minor League who were invited to attend the match by the Pilgrims.