Darlington have suffered a huge blow after being informed they will be without in-form Luke Charman for four games after losing an appeal against his dismissal on Boxing Day.

Their leading scorer was dismissed by referee John Mulligan in the closing stages of a 1-1 draw at Spennymoor Town, a game in which Charman scored one his 13 goals this season.

He tangled with Moors’ Jamie Curtis, a moment caught on video by Quakers and in a photograph taken by a cameraman close to the incident.

Darlington are furious about the verdict, and say the FA told them they did not provide enough evidence to prove Charman did not elbow Curtis.

Quakers boss Alun Armstrong said: “They're basically saying he's guilty because there was no evidence to suggest he didn't elbow him, yet the video clearly shows that didn't happen.

“These refs need to start answering questions after games and explaining their decisions to the press as they don't get held accountable for mistakes and just move on to the next game.

“It’s a joke but we never expected anything different, the FA just back the referees no matter what.”

It was Mulligan’s second red card of the day having previously dismissed Moors’ Stephen Thompson, however, neither decision was met with agreement from either Spennymoor or Darlington.

Armstrong said after the game: “He tried his best to even it up because never in a million years was Thommo’s a second off.”

And speaking initially about Thompson’s red, Moors’ Anthony Johnson said: “It was never a red card, not a single person in the ground thought it was and you could argue the fact theirs wasn’t either.

“We knew at half-time it would get evened up, that’s how it works at this level of football.”

The dismissal merits a three-game suspension, though as Charman was also dismissed away to Southport in October – in similar circumstances – he now sits out four games.

The ban begins on Saturday when Quakers play at Farsley and will conclude on January 29.

Former Newcastle United youngster Charman has scored 19 goals in 33 appearances since the beginning of last season, and netted in each of Darlington’s last five games.