SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown hit out at referee Brendan Malone following his side's 2-0 defeat at Plymouth Argyle on Saturday.

Brown had no complaints about Cian Bolger's early red card.

But the Blues boss was adamant his side should have been awarded a penalty when Adam Thompson went down in the box.

And he also felt Plymouth centre-back Peter Hartley should have been sent off towards the end of the game.

“We went out there to win the game but it was hindered and hampered by somebody else today,” fumed Brown.

“(Marvin) Morgan actually turned round to the players and said he fouled Adam Thompson, the referee also put the whistle in his mouth to give it and I just don't know what's stopping him doing so.

“The linesman gave it but the referee didn't and there should have been a second yellow card for Hartley late on as well.

“He booked a different player and it completely bewildered me how he managed to officiate the game the way he did.”

Blues fought hard against the Pilgrims but were reduced to 10 men after just 15 minutes when Bolger was dismissed for two fouls on Morgan.

The centre-back was unable to deal with the pace of the Plymouth striker.

And Brown did think about substituting the struggling defender before his dismissal.

“I went across to the supporters at the end of the game and they asked why didn't I take him off which is a fair point,” said the Shrimpers chief.

“But, after the second infringement which he got away with, I did think about taking him off but the third one happened so quickly afterwards.

a“Cian's now got to learn the hard way that this is a physical league and he's got to be able to stand up to that.”

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Blues were still on top in the first half.

Plymouth hit back after the break with goals from Lewis Alessandra and Reuben Reid securing them all three points.

But Brown was still delighted by his side's display and he felt they would have collected all three points if Bolger had not been sent off.

“I was proud of the performance,” stressed the Shrimpers boss.

“The lads really dug in and we would've won if it was 11 against 11. We had young lads out there working hard and wearing the shirt with pride.

“We caused them problems but didn't create many chances.

“We were working towards set pieces and we got four or five but we weren't able to work their goalkeeper and their goal just after half-time killed us.

“But we need to put this behind now and look forward to the next game.”

.>CIAN Bolger will miss tomorrow night's Johnstone's Paint Trophy clash at AFC Wimbledon with a one match ban following his red card at Plymouth Argyle on Saturday.