Scunthorpe manager Paul Hurst labelled the decision to send off Kevin Van Veen as “pathetic” and hit out at Northampton’s “gamesmanship” after his side were beaten 3-0 at Sixfields on Tuesday.
United were already 1-0 down to Vadaine Oliver’s header when Van Veen raised both hands and pushed Northampton captain Charlie Goode, who fell to ground, seven minutes before half-time.
Van Veen was shown a straight red card and the visitors never recovered as Oliver added a second goal on the hour mark before Sam Hoskins slammed home a penalty with 20 minutes remaining.
“It’s pathetic,” said Hurst. “Kevin shouldn’t push him, first and foremost, because he gives the ref a decision to make.
“We talk about honesty in the game but Charlie pretends to be pushed in the face and he gives a red card. It’s very soft.
“I’m not happy with Kevin for reacting but I have to say it wasn’t the only decision he got wrong tonight.
“It’s annoying. I didn’t enjoy the performances from certain individuals on the pitch tonight and I’m not talking about my players – and I didn’t enjoy some of the gamesmanship.
“We talk about the image of the game and people being honest and fair but that wasn’t happening tonight.
“Northampton are doing extremely well and they have an excellent home record but we looked a threat and even with 10 men, I don’t think you could tell we were a man light for a large part of the game.
“The lads gave a good account of themselves and I can’t criticise them in terms of their efforts.”
Northampton are now just three points off the automatic promotion places following an eighth-successive game unbeaten in all competitions.
“It was a good professional job,” said manager Keith Curle. “We had to mix things up a bit with the injuries and the suspensions we had.
“But the game plan and the platform we play off doesn’t change and that’s the pleasing thing for us with the squad we’ve got.
“People are on the same page and we all understand the requirements. We played with two full-backs as outside centre-backs.
“They’ve been unlucky not to have more game-time with the shape we’ve played but credit to them tonight because they stepped in and showed a good understanding of what was required.
“It was another challenge for us after the FA Cup game against Derby and we also added in the new dynamics and the new personnel into the group so it was a positive night.
“Three goals, three points, three new players having an impact and a clean sheet. It’s a good sign to have new players stepping up.”