MICKY Mellon is preparing as thoroughly as ever for Fleetwood’s dream FA Cup tie against Blackpool on Saturday – yet one Town player uppermost in his thoughts can’t even play this weekend.
Striker Richard Brodie misses the Highbury humdinger as he serves his third suspension in rapid succession, following his sending off at Southport on New Year’s Day. And Mellon is convinced the card-magnet frontman is being victimised by referees.
Mellon is in the mood to complain over the Crawley loan striker’s treatment... but admits he is unsure who to complain to.
The manager is now convinced that the 24-year-old is being singled out for special attention by the officials.
Brodie’s first-half exit at Haig Avenue on Sunday was the result of two yellow cards from referee Darren Bond, taking his collection of cautions for the season to 12, in addition to the straight red the striker was shown in the first round win over Wycombe.
Mellon said: “It’s got out of hand now – he is almost booked before he’s on the pitch.”
Many a true word... Brodie actually was booked while warming up as a substitute in last month’s second-round replay at Yeovil, earning him a two-match ban for reaching ten bookings
Brodie claimed last week to have turned over a new leaf following talks with the management, though his first game back in the starting line-up lasted barely half an hour.
However, Mellon had nothing but sympathy for Brodie following his early exit at Southport and had strong words for referee Darren Bond.
“The disappointing thing is that we feel Brodie is being singled out by referees, and we were waiting for an opportunity to say that and not have it sound like sour grapes.
“But when a referee walks up to a player and says, am I going to send you off again, or words to that effect, it’s abundantly clear that referees do have it in for him.
“Some of the bookings he gets are for things other players don’t seem to be booked for.
“For his second booking at Southport, he has just fallen on the lad. It’s a foul at worst, but the referee could not wait to book him, and that’s the disappointing thing.
“We just want a fair crack of the whip for Richard and for him to be treated the same as everyone else.”
So is Mellon considering any form of official protest? “I would if I knew who to complain to,” he added. “We don’t have a referees’ spokesperson or leader in the Conference like they do in the Football League.”
Bond had not refereed Town previously this season and had shown only two reds this term prior to the New Year’s Day match.