STANLEY boss John Coleman slammed the scheduling of their League Two play-off semi-final with AFC Wimbledon after defeat at Kingsmeadow on Saturday.

Coleman is furious with the Football League for the fact the Reds had to play away in London on Saturday night, not getting back to East Lancashire until gone 3am, giving them little time to prepare for the second leg on Wednesday night.

The original play-off schedule should have seen Stanley play the first leg on Thursday night, but the fixtures were switched after the final placings were decided last Saturday.

“People say it’s an advantage to play the away leg first,” said Coleman. “That remains to be seen, but I don’t see it an an advantage when you’re getting home at half three in the morning to prepare for a game on Wednesday, how does that favour the team who finished fourth?

“It’s flabbergasted me the way the games were moved, we should have played the Thursday game and it’s flabbergasted me we’ve got to kick-off at 7.30 on Saturday and have a four hour trip home.

“Of course it does (give Wimbledon an unfair advantage). Everything should be mapped out in our favour, we finished fourth. Maybe it’s little Accy again.”

Coleman was also disappointed with referee Stephen Martin for failing to penalise a Wimbledon dive in the build-up to their late winning goal, and felt the Dons had used ‘roughhouse tactics’ throughout the game.

“I’m really disappointed at where the goal has come from,” he said. “Their player has dived, blatantly dived, the referee has waved play on.

“The ball is going out of play, our lad has kept it in thinking we’re getting a free-kick, we don’t get the foul, give them the ball back and they score.

“If the referee gives a foul for simulation, which it is, we’re talking about a 0-0 and everything’s rosy.

“What can go against us this season has gone against us and that’s another one.

“It’s difficult for me to criticise because I think he’s one of the best referees around, but there was a lot of roughhouse tactics and we got a lot of players injured through late challenges which were allowed to go unpunished, there wasn’t a card shown.”

Despite the Kingsmeadow disappointment Coleman has backed his side to bounce back on Wednesday night and reach Wembley for the first time in the club’s history.

“We’ve got to believe. We’ve got players who can win a game at the drop of a hat,” he said.

“That’s two games we’ve drawn a blank in and I’m still wondering how. We’ll keep going, keep plugging away and if there’s any justice in this world we’ll win the game on Wednesday.”

And Coleman was pleased with the way his side had responded to last week’s automatic promotion heartbreak.

“I thought they put a great shift in,” he said. “They worked their socks off, then ran themselves into the ground.

“You can see how hurt they were when they conceded the goal. We’ve got big characters and we’ve got a cup final on Wednesday.

“I’ve always believed in this squad. Nothing will sway that believe.”