Bolton striker Dion Charles was sent off for what looked to be a case of mistaken identity in their 1-0 win over Forest Green.
Charles had put Wanderers ahead after six minutes when he tucked away a Gethin Jones cross.
But there were farcical scenes in the 28th minute when the goalscorer was shown a red card by referee Tom Nield.
It was team-mate Elias Kachunga who appeared to throw a punch at Rovers defender Brandon Cooper as they tussled off the ball.
See what Elias Kachunga does in the background here?
Dion Charles gets a red card for it. I wish I was kidding… pic.twitter.com/8bFqnoJeNv
— Edward Walker (@edward_w97) January 24, 2023
However, the 10 men held on to stay three points behind fourth-placed Derby, who scored twice in the final three minutes to beat Port Vale 2-1.
Ian Evatt, the Bolton manager, said Kachunga had erred, but so had the officials. “We cannot deny that Elias has let everybody down. What he’s done is not acceptable, showing that lack of discipline is not acceptable and he has apologised to the group and we will deal with things internally.
“There’s quite a lot of that [jostling] that goes on in the box all the time. For the linesman to spot it is a good spot and you need to be sharp eyed for that. But then obviously to get a player involved which was probably 15 yards away from the incident is baffling but that’s part done and we will move on.”
Asked if Kachunga had tried to point out the error to the referee, Evatt replied: “Yes he did. And we all tried to tell him. I even walked on the pitch to try to tell him. But at that stage the linesman was positive it was Dion. Mistakes happen and hopefully it will be rectified.”
Evatt also felt that the lack of a video assistant referee was a factor and added that it was time that the English Football League caught up with the Premier League in terms of technology.
“There is enough finance in the game for us to be able to have Var for every division in the English pyramid,” he said. “This is equally important to us as it is to any Premier League team.”