Eddie Howe was at a loss as to why his Bournemouth side were not awarded a “clear-cut” penalty in their 2-2 draw with Sheffield Wednesday.
The Cherries looked on course for a return to the top of the Sky Bet Championship going into stoppage time after Yann Kermorgant and Matt Ritchie scored, only for Chris Maguire to earn the Owls a point from the spot after a foul on Atdhe Nuhiu.
But it was the failure of referee Paul Tierney not to give the hosts their 16th spot-kick of the campaign in the 65th minute for a foul on striker Callum Wilson that left Howe frustrated.
The former Coventry man, who has won Bournemouth a string of spot-kicks in recent months with his pace and direct running, looked to have been fouled by Lewis Buxton but the decision was not given, sparking furious reactions from supporters behind the goal.
And Howe shared their exasperation.
“I don’t even know what to say because I don’t want to get myself in trouble,” Howe said. “Let me say I disagree with the decision.
“That for me is the most clear-cut penalty I’ve seen this season involving my side. And a red card.
“I can’t understand why it wasn’t given. You will have to ask the referee whether the amount of penalties he (Wilson) has got has worked against him. Who knows? For me a penalty is a penalty and it has got to be given.
“Callum is quick and an athletic player and because of the way he plays he naturally draws fouls. If there is a limit to the amount of penalties that can be given then the Football League should let us know.”
Owls manager Stuart Gray, however, revealed Buxton believes he got a touch to the ball when tackling Wilson.
“I respect what the referee decided,” Gray said. “Lewis Buxton said he got a touch of the ball first and you can understand the crowd’s reaction.
“The referee had a decision to make and Bournemouth have had 15 penalties this season so they are obviously doing something right going forward.”
The manner of the late leveller was a real kick in the teeth for Bournemouth after they had bounced back from Kieran Lee’s opener and had then taken the lead despite having 10 men following Simon Francis’ second yellow card.
But their promotion hopes remain in their own hands and they know victory over Bolton live on TV and at Charlton on the final day will see them reach the top flight for the first time in their history.
“That really is tough to take,” Howe added. “That is the reason why we love the game, with its drama and twists and turns even in one game. It was a heartbreaking end to the game for us.
“Even though we have had the most successful season in the club’s history, we have had many moments when we have felt low and down and we have to respond to adversity.
“We only have two games to go now and again our objective is very clear. If we do that then we will be where we want to be.”
Gray was heartened with Wednesday’s fighting spirit even though there was nothing on the line with safety secured.
“We knew it was going to be difficult coming here because their tails are up,” he added.
“When we went 2-1 down I was thinking we didn’t deserve that as my players were giving everything.
“We thought maybe it wasn’t going to be our day but we kept going until the final whistle and I thought if I left this building without anything I would have been very disappointed.”