Preston North End boss Alex Neil felt Sean Maguire needed more protection from Saturday’s match officials at Deepdale.
The Irishman was on the end of some rough treatment from Nottingham Forest’s central defenders during the drab 0-0 draw that extended the Lilywhites’ unbeaten run in the Championship to seven games.
Referee Tim Robinson kept his cards largely in his pocket, though, handing out one warning to Alexander Milosevic and Forest captain Jack Colback late in the first period.
In fact the only booking of the whole afternoon went to North End substitute Jayden Stockley.
The frontman, a half-time replacement for Paul Gallagher, showed his frustration by kicking the ball away after being penalised for a foul on Forest’s other towering central defender Yohan Benalouane, as the pair went back and forth.
“I never condone coaches or anyone really asking for bookings,” said Neil.
“But sometimes it’s the only way to prevent really aggressive challenges on your players.
“I thought Sean got manhandled probably six or seven times in the first half.
“The referee did speak to the player but sometimes just settling it down by giving a caution and saying, ‘Listen, that’s unacceptable’ can then allow it to be more of a football game.”
Despite some frustrations about Saturday’s match, the North End boss did, however, concede that both defences – Benalouane and Milosevic included – played well in a game that was low on chances.
As for his own side, Neil was particularly impressed with Ben Davies’ handling of Nottingham Forest striker Lewis Grabban, who was the main outlet for Martin O’Neill’s men on the day.
“To be fair, I thought their two centre-backs and our two centre-backs were very good,” Neil said.
“Lewis Grabban is excellent at this level.
“He was one of the highest goalscorers for the calendar year in 2018 in the Championship with something like 25 or 30 goals.
“He’s a top, top player at this level but Ben Davies is a top, top centre-back at his level and dealt with him really well. That was really pleasing.
“I certainly think it was a day for defenders.
“There wasn’t much quality at the top end of the pitch from either side to be honest.”