SHAWBURY United manager Dave Richards says referees need to protect young players after he said his team were bullied after losing 3-2 at home to Westfields in Midland Football League Premier Division.

“It was clear they came with a plan to rough us up,” said Richards.

“Two or three of them were sending off challenges and Matty Bollard has broken his foot and will be out until the end of March.

“When we were allowed to play football they couldn’t match us but they were in the referee’s ear all the time which comes from experience.

“There’s plenty of talk about developing young players but they need to be protected at times.

"Referees need to be strong and they need to be able to manage a game and allow players to play football.”

Shawbury went into the game looking to build on their impressive 7-2 win at Lye Town seven days earlier.

But it was the visitors who took the lead on 18 minutes when Mark Magee netted from close range.

United pressed for an equaliser before the break but it was early in the second half that their hard work was finally rewarded.

First Bollard was fouled inside the area and skipper Sean Evans made no mistake from the penalty spot.

Evans then steered Shawbury into a 64th minute lead with a deft chip over the Westfields keeper after being set-up by Keanu Cooper.

The visitors responded by sending on their three substitutes and although Richards introduced a third central defender, the prolific Craig Jones levelled the scores with 15 minutes remaining after being left unmarked on the edge of the area.

Westfields struck what proved to be the winner with eight minutes to go, a cruel goal that saw a cross from Sam Mendes broke hit Cooper on the back to beat the wrong-footed Shawbury keeper.

Alex Harris in the visitors’ goal was forced into a number of decent saves in the final few minutes and Richards’ side thought they should have had a penalty late on when Evans appeared to be brought down only for the referee to wave play on.

“It is all about how we respond to that defeat now,” the Shawbury boss added.

“We had been on a good run but in this league you can easily find yourselves going three or four games without a win.

“We are at home to Bromsgrove Sporting on Saturday which we know will be a tough game but we were written off against Worcester but still beat them.”

West Midlands League Division Two duo Ludlow and Church Stretton had their games called off last Saturday but are back in action this weekend.

Ludlow play host to AFC Bilbrook, a club just two points ahead of them in the table, and will be looking to improve on the 1-1 draw between the sides back in September.

Stretton head to league leaders Sikh Hunters.