Derby manager Wayne Rooney slammed “unacceptable” refereeing after a damaging 2-1 defeat at Blackburn.
Tom Lawrence’s second goal of the season gave Derby a lead they looked set to build on until Sam Gallagher’s free header levelled before the break.
Harvey Elliott then marked his 50th senior appearance by firing the winner midway through the second half to deal a potentially devastating blow to the Rams, who remain precariously positioned just above the drop zone, four points ahead of Rotherham having played three games more.
It is now one win in 11 and Rooney called on referees’ chief Alan Wiley to take action after deeming Stephen Martin to have missed a “clear” penalty when Festy Ebosele went down in the box late on.
Rooney said: “I’ve seen the replay and it’s the most clear penalty you could ever see. I didn’t need to see a replay. Where I was stood, the fourth official was stood right beside me, the referee’s got a great view of it, and it’s completely unacceptable, the decision to not give a penalty.
“Listen, I know referees, it’s a tough job, I respect that. They get decisions wrong at times, but this one is completely unacceptable.
“If my players don’t have a good game, don’t do what you ask, I’ll deal with it and take action to deal with that.
“I don’t really want to go this route, but Alan Wiley has to take action, because that is unacceptable.
“I’ve asked to speak to the referee calmly, I’m not going to go in shouting and rant. All I wanted is an explanation into how he can’t see it’s a penalty.
“We didn’t deserve to lose the game.”
Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray was happy to reach the 50-point mark after ending a run of seven winless games.
He said: “I can’t remember playing without the control that we normally had like that for a long time, and yet we won the game.
“We could have scored a lot more, Adam (Armstrong) could have had a hat-trick tonight, and yet they’re a good football team. Good structure in the way they play. We’ll take the points, move on, four to go.
“After we scored, it gave the team a bit of confidence, because they came with a gameplan. They played a transition game, dropped Lawrence in and they had a front four that looked like they could all break away in the first half.
“Listen, I’m just happy to take the points. I think they’re a good side, they obviously have to win a game or two themselves before the end of the season but there’s good signs for them.
“For us, important to get the 50 points. We’ve got four games to see how many we can get to, potentially another 12.”