Roy Hodgson revealed his frustration that the targeting of Wilfried Zaha led to his sending off as Crystal Palace wasted a winning position to draw 1-1 at Southampton.
His team had been on course for a deserved victory when Zaha scored his first goal since September 15 with a fine finish in the 41st minute.
In the second half, Mamadou Sakho had one effort disallowed before seeing another cleared off the line by Jan Bednarek as they threatened to increase their lead, but James Ward-Prowse scored his third goal in three league games to secure a draw before his tussle with Zaha led to the latter’s red card.
Booked for his exchange with Ward-Prowse, who scored in the 77th minute, Zaha sarcastically applauded referee Andre Marriner to earn a second yellow that will mean he misses Saturday’s fixture at home to Fulham.
“It’s disappointing that a player who perhaps provided the most entertainment throughout the game was consistently fouled,” said Hodgson, who refused to criticise Marriner.
“That he wasn’t able to contain his frustration with that consistent fouling and complains about a foul that wasn’t given and probably should have been.
“I don’t think he’s targeted as a person I just think players who run with the ball as well as he does just get fouled. His play was good enough to provoke those fouls.
“It’s not a good evening knowing he’s going to miss the next game. We need him playing.
“We were fairly well in control. The first half performance was very good. Second half we should really have taken one or two of the chances that came our way.”
Asked if he expects Palace to make any new signings before the conclusion of the January transfer window, the 71-year-old responded: “I’m happy with the squad I’ve got but it’s not that big. I don’t know that there’s any activity planned.
“We’ve brought in Bakary Sako. I was told we’d bring in two players but I don’t count the young goalkeeper (loanee Lucas Perri); a goalkeeper was far from a priority.”
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, who has led his team to eight points from their past 12 as they gather momentum in their battle against relegation, dismissed Hodgson’s suggestions Zaha had been targeted and praised Ward-Prowse for becoming so influential.
Asked of the attention the 26-year-old Zaha received, he responded: “Not more than our players were also fouled. (Nathan) Redmond also has to take a lot of tackling situations against him.
“It’s normal that good players get more pressure because if you want to defend them you have to be close to them.
“The interesting thing was (Ward-Prowse) scored from the full-back position after we switched the shape. It is absolutely fantastic for taking this chance with both hands.”
The Austrian, 51, also insisted he remains unsure over whether Charlie Austin will remain at the club, and is regardless content with his squad.
“I don’t want to take a transfer that doesn’t fit 100 per cent to us,” he said. “Maybe in the summer but with this squad to go until May is not a problem.
“I expect nothing (with Austin).”