THERE were contrasting emotions for Robin Townsend following Bridport’s draw with title-chasing Merley at St Mary’s Field.

The Bees’ chief was delighted with the hosts’ second-half display after a first period he described as “probably the worst 45 minutes I’ve had to witness”.

But, before his side’s point was sealed, captain Ben Clarke was shown a straight red card for violent conduct 10 minutes from the end – and that was just one decision Townsend felt the officials got badly wrong on the day.

Despite their poor first-half showing, the Bees actually went into the break level at 1-1 after Ryan Dovell cancelled out Joe Wood’s 27th-minute opener.

Townsend reckoned the Bees were full value for their point, while he was seething about his skipper’s dismissal in the closing stages.

“Merley brought their manager on in the second half and, with about 10 minutes to go, he went into a tackle late,” he said. “He didn’t win the ball and we reacted to that, which was understandable but not great on our part.

“The two players squared up and Ben Clarke put his arm around their manager to hold him back. He fell over and Ben was sent off for violent conduct.

“Ben was trying to help the referee out but because the player fell over, he got sent off. He is probably one of our best players and that red card is going to cost us because he will definitely be out for three matches, if not more.”

Townsend was far from happy with his men at half-time after a below-par performance in the first period.

The Bees wasted chances to clear the ball before Wood struck, though Dovell made it 1-1 when he was found by Jack Scovell.

The striker should really have scored when a Tristan Gale cross found him un-marked in the box but he missed the target with a header.

Bridport can consolidate sixth place in the Dorset Premier League this Saturday when they host Blandford United (3pm), who sit seventh in the table but were hit for nine by Hamworthy Recreation last time out.

“We want to get a bit of distance between us and them so this is a six-pointer,” added Townsend.

“Blandford changed managers about five games ago and had picked up some good results until last Saturday.”

Bees: B Fleet, A Clarke, Herbst, Day, McClements, Gale, B Clarke, Jones (Legg 10), Cummings, Scovell (H Fleet 85), Dovell.