Gary Bowyer believed referee Sebastian Stockbridge spoiled the game as 10-man Bradford battled to a 1-1 home draw with Cheltenham.
Clayton Donaldson marked his first start since October 12 with a calm first-half penalty to put Bradford ahead after Shay McCartan was brought down in the penalty area.
Jamie Devitt was sent off on the stroke of half-time following two late challenges on Sean Long and Charlie Raglan before Bradford defended resiliently with a numerical disadvantage.
Cheltenham were relentless in their pursuit of an equaliser and they eventually got their reward six minutes from time as Alfie May fired home the rebound from Max Sheaf’s powerful volley.
However, Bowyer was disgruntled with the performance of the Tyneside official, who cautioned four Bradford players while Cheltenham escaped any punishment.
“I thought the game was spoiled by the referee, I didn’t think it was that sort of game,” Bowyer said.
“I have seen a lot of things that I have never seen on a football pitch before so it fooled us a bit.
“It was like every challenge we made was a yellow card but every challenge they made and contact they didn’t seem to get the same.
“Then you see a lad (Luke Varney) catch the ball with two hands and nothing – the rugby league season hasn’t started yet – then it hits Dylan Connolly on the arm then he gets booked.
“That was just another thing the lads had to overcome tonight and they were terrific.”
On Devitt’s red card, Bowyer added: “You’ve asked me that so that tells me that there is some doubt in your mind.
“The lesson is that once you have made that first challenge, you can’t go and give the lad an opportunity to go down.
“A big centre-half like that rolling around, he did well to get up if there were was that much contact.”
Bowyer also praised the team for bouncing back from Saturday’s heavy 3-0 defeat at Mansfield, especially without Sky Bet League Two’s top goalscorer Eoin Doyle and fellow striker James Vaughan, who were left out of the matchday squad completely and are almost certain to leave before Friday’s transfer deadline.
“We spoke on Saturday about the disappointment and brought the players in on Sunday, and the honesty that was spoken, it was brilliant today,” Bowyer said.
“They worked hard yesterday and then produced that. We started the game really well, in terms of our intensity and our effort.
“I thought the organisation, the character, the shape and the willingness to run epitomised what this group is about.
“There was going to be a reaction because they are an honest group. They care, they’re fighting like mad. They know what they want.
“Great reaction, we have to build on that and it’s a 16-game season now.”
None of Cheltenham’s coaching staff were made available to comment after full-time.