ALEX Baptiste was left crestfallen and Gary Bowyer incandescent after another penalty incident nearly cost Blackburn Rovers dear in their 3-2 win over Bournemouth yesterday.
Rovers were three goals to the good and cruising – thanks to first-half efforts from Jordan Rhodes, Grant Hanley and Rudy Gestede – until referee Geoff Eltringham pointed to the spot in the 81st minute despite the fact Baptiste made no contact with Cherries right back Adam Smith.
Substitute Brett Pitman converted the resulting penalty – the 13th Rovers have conceded since the start of last season – before Lee Cook headed home nine minutes later to set up a tense finish at Ewood Park.
Bowyer’s side ultimately held on to claim their first home victory of the campaign.
But the Rovers boss still cut a furious figure afterwards – with Baptiste disconsolate.
The centre back, who has impressed since signing on a season-long loan from Bolton Wanderers, said: “I haven’t touched the lad – it says something that their players were laughing at the decision.
“It just kills me because I’m new to the place and I want to do well – and especially as we defended really well as a team.
“I’m devastated because I feel like I’ve let the team down.”
Bowyer hailed the success – which came on the back of a midweek defeat at Norwich City in which Rovers were on the wrong end of two penalty decisions – as ‘fantastic’.
But he believed it would have been a great deal more comfortable had it not been for Smith and Eltringham.
Bowyer said: “They got a helping hand, massively, by yet another penalty which was not a penalty.
“I don’t know what we can do about it. We had two in midweek and then today the lad clearly dived – there is absolutely no contact at all in the penalty box and he gives a penalty.
“Do I come up here and talk nicely and keep going along the right channels? The reason I’m like this now is I don’t want another season like last season – we had double figures against us last season and I don’t want to have double figures against us this season because it’s massively costly.
“I can’t go into the full details because there’s the potential for me getting into trouble.
“But how can I get into trouble when I’m telling the truth?”
Before the match Rovers owners Venky’s released a statement confirming they have no intention of selling Rhodes to Hull City after the Premier League outfit had a second bid, in excess of £10m and including defender Alex Bruce, rejected.
Bowyer, who flew out to India after the game for a pre-planned meeting with Venky’s, said: “The lad’s been magnificent, I cannot praise him highly enough.
“He’s gone on another level in terms of how he is. I kept in constant communication with him and asked him how he was – he said, ‘I want to play’.”