Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman refused to point the finger at anyone other than his team despite exiting the FA Cup in bizarre circumstances against Crewe Alexandra.

The first round tie took over three hours, featured three different referees and ended with nobody running the line in one half of the pitch as confusion reigned at the Wham Stadium.

But Coleman felt the Railwaymen deserved their 2-0 win.

“As regards the game I can have no complaints,” he said. “Crewe were the better side and thoroughly deserved to win. That’s four games without a goal now for us which is similar to this time last year, which is disappointing. All we can do is wish Crewe all the best for the next round and congratulate them on being worthy winners.”

Despite the manager’s philosophical view on proceedings, the game will be remembered for the unusual events as first referee Neil Hair limped off to be replaced by fourth official Alan Clayton who then also picked up an injury.

“The fourth official who came on hadn’t warmed up and pulled his calf,” explained Coleman. “So we were left with two officials. We had the option of using one of Crewe’s player’s friends who is a level five ref but that wasn’t acceptable or the option of using Jimmy Bell’s son who is a level four ref but again that wouldn’t have been fair.

“According to FA rules the bizarre thing is that the game must be finished with one linesman. You saw that when their lad was miles offside in the second half but it’s the same for both teams. The only thing I didn’t agree with was the tossing of a coin to decide which team got the linesman. That’s a new one on me.”

Stanley were unchanged from the side which drew at Coventry but it was League Two Crewe who made the early running with Dimitar Evtimov forced to push a strike from Owen Dale over the bar before Chris Porter hit the post with a header from Dale’s delivery.

Soon the game’s first stoppage appeared when Mr Hair was injured, with replacement Mr Clayton denying Stanley penalty claims for challenges on Sam Finley and Colby Bishop.

The Reds weren’t posing much threat but were inches from the lead on the cusp of stoppage time when Jerome Opoku let fly from 25 yards and his effort looked to be tipped onto the bar by Crewe keeper Will Jaaskelainen. The officials disagreed and a goal kick was given and from the next attack the visitors scored.

It was a fine counter, with Tom Lowery surging into the Stanley half and picking out Charlie Kirk inside the area on the left, with the number 10 stroking a shot past Evtimov for 1-0.

Then there was nothing but uncertainty as the players didn’t return for the second half. Eventually a PA announcement confirmed the injuries to the officials, with staff from both sides on the pitch trying to work out a solution.

Belatedly the second half began at 5:10pm with assistant Danny Gratton taking charge, Conor Brown running the line in the Crewe half and nobody on duty in Accrington territory and many spectators having decided to go home.

Those Stanley fans who stayed saw things get worse. They did make chances, with Finley firing wide after Jordan Clark looked to have been fouled right on the edge of the box, but soon had the size of their task doubled.

Alex were awarded a penalty just after the hour mark when Dale burst into the box, Stanley skipper Seamus Conneely slid in to seemingly nick the ball through his legs but then continue to send him tumbling. Mr Gratton pointed to the spot and Porter sent Evtimov the wrong way for 2-0.

A penalty box block from Perry Ng prevented sub Dion Charles from halving the deficit but it was over as a contest when the excellent Dale was clipped by Mark Hughes just outside the box and the Stanley defender was shown a straight red card.