Perplexed Australia midfielder Massimo Luongo believes natural justice will prevail after his maiden encounter with fellow Australian Jarred Gillett ended in the first red card of his career.
Rookie Championship referee Gillett - fresh from nine years and 159 games in the A-League - left Luongo, his teammates and coach Garry Monk dumbfounded when he sent the midfielder packing for an innocuous looking challenge on Blackburn Rovers’ Travis Lewis 23 minutes into Sunday’s (AEDT) 5-0 home defeat for Sheffield Wednesday.
The Owls will make an official appeal to the English Football League on Monday, with the luckless Luongo convinced the decision will be overturned and he will escape an automatic ban.
Taking charge of his 15th Championship game of the season, Gillett, 33, showed no leniency and even less sentiment to his compatriot when he brandished a straight red for a challenge that seemed to merit a yellow at worst.
Speaking later, Luongo remained guarded over the incident for fear of prejudicing the appeal process.
But he was optimistic over the likely outcome, telling The World Game: “I’m confident the decision will be rescinded.
“There was no malice at all in the challenge.
“We’re obviously appealing it and I don’t want to say too much more (at this stage).”
Wednesday - who remain sixth despite a third successive home loss - were already a goal down when Luongo, 27, was dismissed by Gillett, the five-time A-League referee of the year and the first foreigner to be recruited to the Championship.
An incredulous Monk was more forthright than Luongo as he voiced his displeasure at Gillett’s controversial call.
“Of course the red card changes it, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse,” he said.
“It’s 100 percent not a red card. There’s no intention to it, no malice, there’s no aggression.
“Speaking to all of their players and their staff and ours, nobody could quite believe that it was a red card.
“We’ll 100 percent be appealing that and that’s something that 100 percent should be rescinded, the referee has made a clear mistake for that.”
Having controlled five A-League grand finals, Gillett followed his own football dream to England in the off-season, joining PGMOL's (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) Select Group 2 for the start of the campaign.
As well as his Championship assignments, he’s already been a fourth official at four Premier League games this season - and views England's top flight as his holy grail.
His decision was bitter blow for Luongo, who has endured a stop-start debut season at Hillsborough following his move from Queens Park Rangers, thanks in part to a series of injury setbacks.
He’s received several rave reviews for his performances, scoring twice in 18 games, and is looking for a platform to string together a run of matches for the Yorkshire club.
“This season has been a weird one for me,” he added. “I worked hard to get into the team, score a couple of goals, do well and then get injured.
“I get back into the side again and we do well, then I got concussion around Christmas.
“Then I’m back again for our FA Cup win against Brighton; we beat Leeds and then something like this happens.
“There’s always something popping up - I kind of need to get my head down and get a few games on the run and focus on playing week-in week-out.
“I need to focus less on disruption and more on getting back on the pitch.”
Luongo, who has missed 10 games so far, acknowledged the Owls will need to find an antidote to their worrying recent home form if they’re to remain in play-off contention.
“Even without the red card we weren’t at our best - that’s not the standard we want to keep as a club,” he said.
“We’ve got to be better than that. Our home form has been far from great and we have to fix that, I don’t know what it is.
“If we can find a solution we should be cruising going into the play-offs.
“Away from home we’ve been great. We’ve got to find a balance there.
“The play-offs are expected of us the way the season has been going.
“We’ve had a little dip (with three defeats from the last four) but most teams have had those dips also.”
Wednesday travel to west London at the weekend to face Luongo’s former club QPR in a match he won’t want to miss.