Simon Grayson believes Preston North End were robbed of a place in the FA Cup fifth round after losing 2-0 to Nottingham Forest.
PNE had a couple of penalty appeals turned down and substitute Joe Garner hit the post as a damp Deepdale witnessed former boss Billy Davies’ Forest side knock them out of the cup in the fourth round replay.
North End boss Grayson said: “It was daylight robbery, we should have had a penalty and the second goal rubbed salt into the wounds.”
And his opposite number Davies said: “I think the best side lost, you have got to feel sorry for them as they deserved to win the match, end of.”
Grayson made three changes from the side that beat Notts County 2-0 at Deepdale on Saturday, debut goalscorer Craig Davies was an enforced absence as the former Bolton forward was cup-tied.
Kevin Davies returned to the side after a three match suspension as PNE aimed to build on their impressive 0-0 draw with the Championship side in the first match at the City Ground.
Keith Keane and Chris Humphrey were named in the starting XI as Paul Gallagher and North End’s third round hat-trick hero Joe Garner dropped to the bench.
North End dominated the opening exchanges and they had the ball over the line in the eleventh minute. But referee Jon Moss blew for a foul on Forest keeper Dorus De Vries
Man-of-the-match Keith Keane ran into space on the left in the 13th minute and drove towards the byline but he fluffed his kick and the ball went out for a goal kick.
In the 15th minute Lee Holmes’ shot from the edge of the box trickled just wide of the left hand post.
But Forest took the lead in the 18th minute as Declan Rudd palmed the ball away from goal under pressure from Guy Moussi and Jamie Mackie latched onto the loose ball just outside the box to curl an unstoppable shot into the top left hand corner.
Holmes hit another effort from range in the 25th minute but the winger sent the ball way wide of De Vries’ goal.
Minutes later Matt Derbyshire whipped a teasing cross across PNE’s box in the and Simon Cox edged in front of Tommy Clarke, but Cox could only poke the ball wide of goal.
Holmes’ free-kick from the left hand side nearly teed Davies up as the returning striker got ahead of his marker, but De Vries was on hand to block the shot.
A minute later PNE had another free-kick in a promising position 25-yards from goal, but Holmes’ attempted chip to Keith Keane was met by a Forest defender.
In the 37th minute Keane found Holmes in the area with a precision pass. Holmes went down under pressure from a Forest defender but the referee waved away his penalty appeal.
Davies collided with Djamal Abdoun on the edge of Forest’s penalty area in the 41st minute but the referee waved away Forest’s protestations.
David Buchanan’s cross eventually found Holmes near the penalty spot and the winger’s tame effort nearly fell into the path of Keane and Davies, but Forest Keeper De Vries denied PNE.
After some slick overlapping on the right hand side John Welsh managed to pull the ball back from the byline but an advancing Scott Wiseman could not trouble the keeper just before half-time.
Davies smashed a fierce effort from just outside the box in the 50th minute that rippled the side netting and caused PNE fans at a damp Deepdale to jump out of their seats.
In the 52nd minute Forest had a chance as Cox weaved his way through, but he blazed his shot wide under pressure from Tom Clarke.
And in the 54th minute the lively Cox had the ball in the back of the net, but the striker’s powerful shot was cancelled out as he was ruled offside.
Keane crossed over to Davies at the back post in the 62nd minute, the striker - making his 50th FA Cup appearance - rose above his marker but headed wide of goal.
Neil Kilkenny pounced on Holmes’ deflected cross in the 64th minute but the Australia international’s strike was blocked by Forest and PNE could not capitalise on the rebound.
But in the 66th minute controversy marred the game as PNE’s players and fans were up in arms appealing for a penalty after Davies’ shot appeared to strike Greg Halford’s hand, but referee Moss waved away the appeal.
And soon after substitute Darius Henderson also appeared to handle the ball on the byline from substitute Garner’s cross in the box.
Wiseman nearly scored his first goal for PNE as he latched onto the ball in the 76th minute and smashed a super shot inches wide from just outside the box.
And Garner pulled the ball back to Welsh who forced De Vries into a diving save. Forest’s keeper couldn’t hold onto the ball but Davies could not convert the rebound in the 79th minute.
After a prolonged period of pressure from PNE Gallagher hit a shot from 25-yards out wide in the 88th minute
But moments later Garner nearly grabbed the equaliser. He finally managed to smash a shot towards goal after battling for the ball 12-yards out but the strikers deflected shot skimmed the right-hand post.
Sub Henderson sealed the tie in the 94th minute as he capitalised on a rare Clarke mistake, the defender miss-kicked his clearance and the striker hit a superb strike that flew past Rudd into the bottom corner.
Nottingham Forest will now face Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in the fifth round later this month.
PNE: Rudd, Keane, Clarke, Wright, Humphrey (Garner, 65), Davies, Holmes (Gallagher, 65), Buchanan (Laird, 77), Welsh (c), Wiseman, Kilkenny. Subs: Stuckmann, Beavon, King, Hume.
Nottingham Forest: De Vries, Harding, Collins, Moussi, Mackie, Halford, Lascelles, Jara, Derbyshire (Paterson, 51), Cox (Henderson, 66), Abdoun (Majewski, 51). Subs: Darlow, Reid, Greening, Paterson, Osborn.
Referee: Jon Moss (West Yorkshire)
Attendance: 9,744 (849 Forest)