Manager Paul Warne labelled Jon Taylor a “dipstick” after admitting he substituted the winger in Rotherham United’s latest win to save him from a red card.
Taylor, back in the League One starting line-up for the first time since September, was impressing in the promotion-chasing Millers’ 3-0 triumph at Northampton Town.
But he had already been booked when he needlessly kicked the ball away during the second half, risking a second yellow card from referee Ben Toner.
“Tayls was close to being sent off, I thought,” said Warne, before light-heartedly adding. “We spoke to him at half-time and the dipstick still kicked the ball away at that corner.”
Taylor tweeted: “Never been on edge so much about getting sent off in my life. Nice one, ref lad.”
The 25-year-old was hauled off at the same time as left-back Joe Mattock who was also lucky to stay on the pitch after committing a bad foul when he too was on a caution.
Fourth-placed Rotherham, who had gone unbeaten for more than three months before suffering two straight defeats, returned to form by destroying the Cobblers 3-0 last Saturday.
Warne, whose squad travel to Southend United on Saturday, made five changes to the side that lost 3-2 at Mk Dons in midweek, including dropping skipper Richard Wood and moving central midfielder Will Vaulks to centre-half.
“Woody took it brilliantly,” Warne said. “I can’t complain at any of them. I dropped five players on Friday so it was a long day. It’s never easy. But I dropped them for the right reasons and I think they understand that.
“They might not agree with the decision, but they have to respect it. Those decisions are for the benefit of us all. It’s not about the 11. It’s about the 28 or so of us in that dressing room and the club as a whole.
“Woody is a brilliant pro and that’s why I’ve kept him at the club and why I want him at the club.”
Right-back Josh Emmanuel, Taylor, midfielder Matt Palmer, winger Ryan Williams and striker David Ball were all brought into the starting 11 at Sixfields where the Millers turned in one of their best displays of the season.
“We brought down 20 lads,” Warne said. “We had all 20 in the dressing room, telling them they all had a part to play and that they’d all played a part already.
“We told them: ‘You’re doing it for everyone in this dressing room and all the fans who’ve travelled as well as the ones back home.’
“I’m really, really proud of the lads because, on the back of two defeats, people start whispering that maybe they’re not this or that. Our performance at Northampton was excellent.”