BURY fans were “cheated” of a chance to see a competitive match at Chesterfield, according to manager David Flitcroft, who slammed referee Tony Harrington’s performance following his side’s crushing defeat.

The Shakers boss conceded Paul Cook’s promotion chasers were the better side, but believes the scoreline would have been much closer but for a couple of questionable decisions from the Cleveland match official.

“Their forward play was breathtaking at times and I’m in admiration at the way they beat us, but not in admiration of the refereeing team,” he said.

“We’ve been fairly beaten, but it was not a 4-0, and that’s what I’m disappointed about.”

Bury were only trailing by a single goal when playmaker Danny Mayor was shown a straight red card for a studs-up challenge on Matt Brown in first-half stoppage time.

The 23-year-old midfielder immediately raised his hand in apology after leaving his foot in, but there was no force or momentum in his challenge and the big centre-back’s dramatic reaction did not exactly help his cause.

“It’s always the calculated referees that get more decisions right than wrong, but he sprinted over, gave the decision and didn’t give himself any thinking time whatsoever,” added Flitcroft.

“If he had just waited, assessed it and seen the reaction of the kid tackled, because the 6”5 giant bounced up after Danny got sent off and I don’t buy into that.

“I really wanted to be competitive, and our fans have been cheated of that right.”

The referee was back in the Bury boss’s bad books in the second half after overruling his assistant’s offside flag to award Chesterfield their third goal.

Spireites striker Marc Richards initially peeled away to celebrate heading in at the back post, only to be flagged for offside. But Harrington adjudged substitute Tom Soares to have got the decisive touch.

“It’s a bit of a dodgy rule and I still don’t understand it,” admitted experienced Bury defender Richard Hinds.

“It looks as if Soarsey has headed it, but if he misses the ball the lad’s going to head it in, so what can he do? He can’t do anything. He’s got to go for the ball so, in my view, he (Richards) is interfering with play and should be offside.”