Fleetwood Town boss Graham Alexander could be left desperately short in the striker department after David Ball was hospitalised during the 1-0 defeat at Northampton.
Ball left the field just after the half-hour with a suspected dislocated shoulder following a challenge by Mathias Kouo-Doumbe.
Luke Norris scored with a controversial free-kick in stoppage-time to lift the Cobblers off the bottom of League Two and send Town down from first to fourth, a point behind new leaders Oxford.
Alexander was left fuming over referee Gary Sutton’s handling the game, not least his awarding the free-kick which led to the winner.
The Town boss said: “I’m flabergasted we’ve lost the game. There is nothing the players could have done to prevent that goal, nothing.
“It’s not a free-kick but there were other things going on too.”
The Fleetwood boss felt it was a “waste of time” speaking to Mr Sutton about his decision, highlighting other incidents and questioning the decision booking of three Town players.
“If I speak to referees and listen to what they come out with, it’s a waste of time,” he said.
“The lads are telling me the linesman gave the free-kick. If he can pick out a foul, which nobody is claiming, when there are about 20 players in a 15-yard area, he must have great eyesight. It’s amazing as nobody else has seen that.
“It was par for the course for the game. When Jon Parkin was booked, it wasn’t a free-kick on wasn’t a booking.
“And again we come out of a game with three bookings and the opposition get one, but we’re not a dirty team.”
Alexander praised the Fleetwood players, who endured a 90-minute endurance test against a direct and physical Northampton side.
“I’m finding it hard to stay on the right side of the line,” he admitted. “What I will talk about is my players - they were fantastic. They put everything into the game.
“They don’t deserve that (the defeat) because it was taken out of their hands by somebody who shouldn’t have.
“I felt we created chances in the second half. We had to deal with pressure from set-pieces and we dealt with it. To get stitched like that, I’m raging.”
Before the challenge which ended his game, Ball should have put Fleetwood ahead, a lovely turn and shot inside the box which struck the angle.
“It’s a fantastic bit of skill,” said Alexander. “But unfortunately Bally has ended up in hospital for the second time this season.”
The tackle on Ball resulted in Northampton’s only booking of the match.
Manager Alexander added: “It was a yellow card. He’s gone through him. It’s a competitive game and we’re not afraid of that because we’re competitors too. But what get’s me is our team pick up three bookings and that’s their only one. It happened the other week at York too.”
But the Fleetwood boss sees no point in complaining to the authorities.
He said: “I’ve gone through the right channels. You get nothing back or what you do get back is a waste of time. I won’t be doing it again.
“David Ball had four stitches at Tranmere. That wasn’t dealt with and it’s happening too often.
“It that challenge happens and we draw the game, as we should have done, we’d still be angry about it. If we win the game we’d be angry about it.
“Too many things were going on I wasn’t happy about and they weren’t dealt with properly.”
Ball will see a specialist today, with Fleetwood anxious over the extent of the injury to their striker.
Jamille Matt is already sidelined with an ankle injury and is weeks from a return
Jon Parkin and on-loan teenager Emmanuel Dieseruvwe are the only fit strikers at the club.