Stevenage manager Gary Smith hit out at referee Oliver Langford for awarding Southampton a second-half free-kick which he thinks helped the Barclays Premier League side to triumph in tonight's Capital One Cup tie at the Lamex Stadium.
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Stevenage were 1-0 down but still had a chance of causing an upset in tonight's second-round clash when Langford awarded Saints a foul which led to their second goal.
Langford gave Southampton a free-kick 12 yards out from goal after Chris Day picked up a miscued clearance from Stevenage captain Mark Roberts, and a quick bit of thinking from Richard Chaplow allowed Billy Sharp to tap home from close range.
The League One side were furious that Langford had judged that Roberts had intentionally passed the ball back to his goalkeeper when he had in fact slipped when trying to clear.
Saints, who had just gone ahead through Japan international Tadanari Lee, then went on the rampage to win 4-1 as Stevenage threw men forward in the hope of getting back in the game.
"I'm not sure we got the rub of the green. The second goal was a pivotal moment in the game and if the referee shows a little more common sense he will see from Mark's body shape he is looking to play the ball across the pitch to the full-back," Smith said.
"He touches the ball with his standing foot and his other foot touches it back to the keeper. Without that there could have been a different slant on the game.
"We played some very good football but the result looks like a bit of a beating. The second goal undoubtedly shook and rocked the players.
"I thought we lost out discipline and looked too open for a few minutes."
Stevenage, conquerors of Newcastle here at the Lamex Stadium two seasons ago, looked on course to cause an upset in the first half.
The Hertfordshire side rattled the Southampton bar and dominated against a Saints side that contained 11 changes from the team that crumbled against the Latics last weekend.
But their failure to convert their chances cost them dearly. Lee's cool finish from inside the box set them on their way and Jason Puncheon scored a peach of a 30-yard volley to make it 3-0 after Sharp's controversial second.
Michael Thalassitis scored a consolation for Stevenage but Ben Reeves' spectacular strike near the death ensured Southampton wrapped up their first win of the season after defeats to Wigan and Manchester City.
"We knew it was going to be a tough test, but we have ticked a lot of boxes tonight," Saints boss Nigel Adkins said.
"We scored four exceptional goals, Lee has scored and got 90 minutes under his belt after his injury and we showed exceptionally quick thinking for the second, and they were tremendous strikes from Jason and Ben."
Southampton hope to wrap up the signing of highly-rated forward Gaston Ramirez from Bologna in the next 24 hours.
The Argentina international has been heavily linked with an £11million move to the south-coast club.
Adkins would not talk about the player until all the paperwork has gone through, but admitted the size of the fee involved shows just how ambitious the club's hierarchy are.
"Until the pieces of paper are signed you can never say it's done but the chairman is working exceptionally hard behind scenes and is backing us in what we do," Adkins said when asked about Ramirez.
"We are very ambitious and there is serious cash to be outlaid if it's going to happen."