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Hughes could be in the dock after disputing winner
JOHN Hughes could be absent from the Hartlepool United bench for a spell during the final run-in.
The Hartlepool United head coach was ordered to watch the second-half of their defeat at Coventry from the main stand, after making an approach to referee Fred Graham at half-time.
Pools and Hughes were incensed at the manner in which Cody McDonald was allowed to score the only goal.
Pools felt Hartley was fouled. Coventry boss Steven Pressley insisted he wasn't, referee Graham likewise.
Hughes didn't have the option to see TV replays before either his half-time incident or speaking to the press after the final whistle, but they favoured the referee.
There were also fireworks at full-time as Micky Barron reacted to Pressley's actions and was involved in a heated exchange with Sky Blues' assistant manager Neil McFarlane.
Referee Graham is sure to include the half-time incident in his report, and there is a danger that Hughes could face further sanctions from the FA.
While Colchester won at Bury - a result that puts the Us 11 points ahead of Pools - Scunthorpe lost at Notts County.
The Irons are six points in front of Pools. The team directly ahead of Hughes' side is Oldham, where Pools go to tomorrow night.
Without a goal in four games, since Andy Monkhouse scored in the 90th minute in the 3-0 win over Crewe, Pools will have to show more attacking intent at Boundary Park.
Beating the Latics is a must, so Pools will need to channel Saturday's disappointment and take the game to their hosts.
"It's part and parcel of football,'' insisted Hughes of the decision. "These things happen and some things go for you. We won't get hung up on it and after that we still had 60 minutes to get back into it, but couldn't get the ball over the line.
"You hope the decision was 100 per cent correct - we are talking of livelihoods here.
"I felt it was a free-kick our way, the boy bumped into Hartley. Is he allowed to bump him? To get beaten by that is disappointing. I felt we were the better football side. Any neutral watching would be asking how Hartlepool are where we are. We had our share of chances.
"I felt we acquitted ourselves very well and gave as good as we got.''
Hughes added: "I've asked to see the referee. They have a hard job, I understand that and we are all in the game together.
"I won't point the finger of blame at the referee. I'm man enough to admit that if I see it on television and that if I get it wrong in complaining and the referee gets it right I will be the first to telephone him and say I was wrong.
"It changed the mechanics of the game. It was a crucial decision and he possibly got it wrong.''
Of the half-time dismissal, which left Barron taking phone calls from Hughes in the dug-out during the second-period, he said: "I had a word with him at half-time and he got upset, which is disappointing.
"I felt he could have taken time out, a wee ten seconds, his emotions were running very high and he probably made his decision to send me into the stand off his emotions.
"And I'm saying that because I didn't raise my voice not once or use foul or abusive language. All I said to him was that the decision puts livelihoods at stake - and he felt that was threatening behaviour.
"If that's the case, then I'll put my hands up to that. I'm just making a point. He felt I stepped across the line and sent me to the stands for it.
"I was very surprised to be sitting in the stands in the second half. Maybe he's made a ricket.''
Barron's full-time ire came after he shook hands with Pressley. A former player at Falkirk under Hughes, there seemed to be a cold atmosphere between the Scots before the game.
And Pressley, whose fist pumping celebrations in Barron's face before the incident was hardly the most mature of things to do, said of the spat: "I think there's a little bit of previous. I shook his hand and said 'well done'. His demeanour wasn't very respectful.
"There's no previous with him (Barron), so you can use your imagination ...''
Pools' overall disappointment stemmed from the fact that the game would have been 0-0 without the referee's decision.
Neither side looked like scoring, Pools failed to over-exert keeper Joe Murphy. It's two points from 12 and those three recent home draws against Colchester, Yeovil and Portsmouth are starting to look costly.