A referee made a schoolboy blunder which cost Alton the chance of victory in their Combined Counties League local derby with Farnham Town.

The referee disallowed a goal when Alton scored a penalty in the last minute because he said a home player had encroached in the penalty area.

Under the laws of the game - which referees at every level has drummed into them - the penalty should be retaken.

But the referee inexplicably decided to award Farnham a free-kick instead - and wouldn't be swayed even when Alton's players and their manager said he blundered.

Alton manager Kevin Adair was left fuming after the Premier Division South match on Saturday.

“The rule is, if an attacking player encroaches, it’s a retake, and if a defending player and an attacking player encroaches, it’s a retake. That’s the rule – that’s the FA rule,” said Adair. “The referee came over to me and told me he’s a Step 4 referee and he knows better – but that’s not the rules.

“I’m really restrained normally – some of the officiating has not been up to standard over the course of the season, but I never say anything. I’ve had enough now, because that’s robbed us of three points. It’s a disgraceful decision for a load of lads who deserved to win. That’s a disgusting decision. I’m furious.

“If he’s telling me he’s a Step 4 referee I dread to think what the level below is going to be like. That’s not knowing the rules – that’s really poor. We’re asked to respect the officials and contain our emotions, but how can you stay contained when the referee does not know the rules.

“I’m lost for words – I don’t really understand it.

“There’s a guy refereeing the game, claiming to be a higher level than this, and getting a decision completely wrong because he doesn’t know the rule. I’ve never, ever, seen the likes of it.”

Farnham manager Paul Johnson admitted he was bemused by the referee’s decision not to retake Alton’s penalty.

He said: “I don’t know the rules any more. They’ve complicated the game so much, you’ve just got to accept what they give – otherwise you’ll end up in jail!”