PHIL Parkinson was left ruing a ‘really poor’ refereeing decision that cost Altrincham two crucial promotion points as Blyth Spartans held them to a 1-1 draw at The J.Davidson Stadium on Tuesday night.

Leading through a brilliant John Johnston strike, Alty’s progress towards a third successive win was abruptly halted when a deflection off Jake Moult that was picked up by keeper Tony Thompson was interpreted as a deliberate back pass.

Referee Lewis Smith awarded an indirect free kick seven yards out, despite furious protests, and it led to Blyth skipper Robbie Dale firing a shot through the wall and past Thompson.

“It cost us the three points, there’s no getting round that,” said Alty boss Parkinson.

“Blyth came here to stop us rather than hurt us, which I’ve never seen from them before, but we still did enough to win. The fact we didn’t was down to a really, really poor refereeing decision.

“It was never going to be a free-flowing game, because they didn’t want it to be, so getting our noses in front with a goal right out of the top drawer from JJ [Johnston], turning, swivelling and finishing with aplomb, ought to have done it for us.

“But then a decision like that lets them off the hook and allows them to defend for the rest of the game and get what they came for. They were more than happy with a point.

“To think Jake deliberately touched it with his studs into the path of Tony in that situation is ridiculous, as is the idea Tony would then pick it up if it was a back pass. Everyone in the ground knew it was a poor decision, and fundamentally it has cost us.”

Parkinson hopes to complete the loan signing of a centre-back before Alty travel to improving York City on Saturday.

“We are still ticking over and are very close to what we want to achieve, but we are under no illusions about how difficult the next run of games is,’ he said. ‘Having another defender on board will be important.”