PHIL Brown was left bemoaning the match officials following Southend United’s 2-1 defeat to Bradford City on Saturday.

Shrimpers skipper Ryan Leonard was shown a second yellow card for the challenge which led to the Bantams’ late winner from the penalty spot.

And Blues boss Brown - who was sent to the stands for his subsequent protests - was frustrated by the performances of referee Keith Stroud and fourth official Paul Harris.

“It was a silly decision to send me to the stand,” said Brown.

“It’s beyond me really but the referee has failed to do his job and that’s not overruling a fourth official who has given a decision which has cost us.

“He’s given the free-kick in front of the dugout just before the penalty, which I didn’t agree with either.

“Ryan Leonard took the ball but he also took the man and the referee has decided to give the penalty which has won Bradford the game.”

But Brown’s anger did not stop there.

“In the resulting celebrations from the penalty, which the referee dealt with after about five minutes, one of their players boots the ball out of the stand into about Rochford and I had to take the replacement ball out of the bag,” said Brown.

“I did it twice during the game and that’s what the fourth official should be doing.”

However, Brown was far more satisfied with the performance of his players and how they responded to the 3-0 defeat at Bristol Rovers in their previous outing.

“Seven days ago I wasn’t a proud man,” said Brown.

“If the players carried on in that manner it wouldn’t have been long until the chairman came and had a word with me but this was a fully committed performance.

“I asked for commitment, desire, work-rate and energy.

“I wanted that to be coupled with quality and we had that in the second half.”

But it was still not enough to stop the Shrimpers suffering their first home League defeat of the campaign.

“It was a very close game but we started the second half ever so well and it was one way traffic until we scored,” said Brown.

“I thought there was only going to be one winner after that but we took our foot off the gas.”

And Brown - who said Anton Ferdinand and Simon Cox were both rested for Saturday’s game - knows the defeat has increased the pressure on his shoulders.

“The less you win the more you lose ground and the more the chairman loses sight of the Championship,” said Brown.

“So that means there’s more pressure.”

But Brown was buoyed by the return of left-back Ben Coker, who played the full game after recovering from a broken leg.

“Ben Coker astounded me yet again,” said Brown.

“He was only supposed to play 65 minutes but he kept on giving me the thumbs up.”