Corinthian-Casuals Manager James Bracken was left fuming following a controversial 2-1 defeat at strugglers Burgess Hill Town on Saturday - writes Stuart Tree.

With just minutes left, referee Tom Ellsmore gifted the Hillians two goals to dramatically turn the game on its head.

Warren Mfula had opened the scoring for Casuals immediately after half time, but from a corner, goalkeeper Danny Bracken appeared to be held down by Pat Harding allowing the home side to score.

Despite impassioned protests, the goal was able to stand.

And two minutes later, everyone was left stunned when Ellsmore pointed to the penalty spot much to the surprise of everyone – including the Burgess Hill players who hadn’t appealed for one.

Warren Morgan was dismissed for his protests and Hill ran out undeserved 2-1 winners.

“I feel we’ve been cheated. 100% cheated,” said Bracken following the loss. “I can find no other words to describe what’s happened in the last ten minutes of the match.”

“Their first, our keeper is being held down, but the goal is allowed to stand. He then gives a shocking penalty with pretty much the last kick of the game and doesn’t play the full five minutes added on at the end.

Bracken alludes to a number of mistakes made by the officials throughout. Casuals had appeared to score in the first half, when Mfula bundled the ball over the line before a clearance but neither Ellsmore or his Assistant had seen it.

“I can handle officials making bad mistakes. I can handle the fact that two of them haven’t seen the ball go a foot over the line in the first half. I can accept that. But I can’t accept being cheated. That man gifted them the game, even gloating afterwards. I asked him what his thinking was for giving the penalty and he couldn’t answer me.

“He knows it’s wrong; his officials know it’s wrong and everyone in the crowd knows it’s wrong. Their management have profusely apologised to me after the final whistle saying we’ve been cheated the worst that they’d ever seen. What more can I say?

“Maybe that’s what we have to contend with. Some say it balances itself out over the course of the season. People might think I’m crazy but we have had no luck all year. None.

“If the referee had put in that level of performance in the Premier League, it’d be scrutinised, he’d be ripped to shreds and the FA would investigate it. Because that’s how bad it was.

But Bracken took plenty of positives from the performance which he felt was deserved of a convincing win.

“It was another good display from us on what was a tricky pitch. It took us a while to settle. At half time, I didn’t hold back, and I told the boys what needed to be done. We achieved that.

“3-0 would’ve honestly been a fair reflection on the game in terms of chances, possession, threatening attacks and controlled defending. I don’t recall my brother having to make a big save. They didn’t threaten our goal at all until Dan gets held down for their equaliser and lets someone tap it in.

“We should’ve scored more goals, of course. One-nil is always a score that can catch you out, but we never got caught out nor looked like we would. We were simply cheated out of it. We’ve scored one and the referee has scored two. Burgess Hill won 2-1. There’s no more to it than that.”

Casuals host relegation threatened Wingate an Finchley on Saturday.