A QUICK internet search for “Andy Haines referee” brings up a Facebook page calling for the Tyne and Wear official to never take charge of another game.
After their opening day defeat to Southend, James Beattie and his Accrington Stanley players may well have been tempted to “like” it.
Two contentious penalties, one saved by debutant goalkeeper Luke Simpson and the other won and scored by Lee Barnard, proved to be the difference between the Reds and the highly fancied Shrimpers at the Store First Stadium.
The sun shone over Livingstone Road and Beattie had the unusual luxury of being able to name eight players for the season opener that had started the final game of the last campaign. Simpson was the only new name on the team sheet and he would have a Football League debut to remember.
The former Oldham keeper was called into early action to keep out a long range drive from Connor Clifford and rose to the challenge, parrying the ball out expertly.
At the other end Stanley threatened too, with James Gray turning in behind and clipping the ball goalwards from a tight angle on the right, only to see it cannon back off the outside of the post.
The Northern Ireland under 21 international then misfired after a fine back heel from Josh Windass before being tugged back by Clifford when breaking away, the offence meriting a free kick but no card from Mr Haines.
Southend are among the favourites for promotion with the bookies but were showing only flashes of that ability, with Tom Aldred thwarting Myles Weston and Simpson saving from Ryan Leonard before the Stanley keeper turned a drive from Weston over the top of the bar.
The final chance of the first half was Stanley’s, with Windass volleying inches over the top.
It was after the interval that the controversy began, with the visitors awarded their first penalty inside two minutes.
Shaquille Coulthirst got between Adam Buxton and Dean Winnard and went to ground with Mr Haines, who awarded a controversial spot kick in his last Stanley game at Burton Albion last season, pointing to the spot.
Barry Corr stepped up and hit his kick straight down the middle but Simpson continued his fine display by keeping the ball out.
The Reds sought a response, with Kal Naismith blasting over the top from distance and Windass inches from converting a cross from Piero Mingoia just past the hour mark.
It looked as if both sides would settle for a point but substitute Barnard crumbled in the box when confronted by Winnard. Debate raged about contact but the referee again awarded a penalty.
This time there was no mistake, with Barnard taking the kick himself and sending Simpson the wrong way.
Now tempers began to fray, with Gray and Barnard scuffling in front of the dugout and the Southend goalscorer booed by the home fans.
Beattie’s men went for broke in the dying stages but despite the introduction of loan signing James Alabi and Aldred pressed into action as an emergency centre forward, they could muster no late leveller.