Neil Lennon refused to let his dismissal from the touchline spoil a winning start as Bolton manager following his struggling side’s 1-0 Sky Bet Championship victory at Birmingham.
The former Celtic boss was sent to the stands late on for leaving his technical area one too many times as Craig Davies waited to take a penalty after being fouled by goalkeeper Darren Randolph, who was sent off.
Ironically, Lennon had encroached while trying to tell Lee Chung-Yong or Jay Spearing to take the spot-kick instead of Davies. In the end, Davies did take it - and blazed it over the bar - but Matt Mills’ first-half header was enough to seal the win.
“I got sent off basically for leaving the technical area and walking a few yards onto the pitch to give instructions to my players,” said Lennon, who vowed to fight any touchline ban.
“The lady (fourth official Amy Fearn) said I was consistently doing it and she did warn me, to be fair. But you’ve got to understand it’s my first game, we’re in a difficult position and maybe I was overexuberant but I’m not used to the ways of it down in England.
“I think it was very, very harsh, a little bit pedantic and unnecessary. I wasn’t remonstrating with anyone. I’ve seen a lot worse in Scotland, put it that way.
“A few times the lady warned me. I tried to deal with it with a bit of humour because I want to make a decent impression. But sending me off was a bit over the top.
“I’ll appeal it. I’ve got to.”
He added: “I hope my reputation from my time in Scotland hasn’t preceded me. I haven’t been sent off for two years. My only misdemeanour today was leaving the technical area, showing enthusiasm. Officials need to cut people a bit of slack.”
The decisive goal had come in the 20th minute as Mills lost his marker to power home a header from Spearing’s cross at a corner, and Lennon added: “But it can’t spoil a great day and an important win.
“I felt in the second half particularly we should have picked them off on the counter more but we were anxious in the final third.”
Birmingham counterpart Lee Clark was left to rue yet another disappointing afternoon at St Andrews, during which his side had far more chances but finished empty-handed.
“I thought we were worth something today,” he said. “We gave a really poor goal away from a set play, when so many games at every level are decided by set-pieces.
“Mills didn’t just have half a yard, he had a couple, and it was one of our most experienced players who he lost (David Edgar).
“I’m frustrated. Our two young players, Demarai Gray and Koby Arthur, were our threat all afternoon, they were our mainstay going forward and did really well trying to get us into the game.”
Blues goalkeeper Randolph was sent off in the 82nd minute after conceding the penalty when Paul Caddis’ poor backpass forced him to bring Davies down in the box.
As for the penalty and red card, Clark said: “I’ve got no arguments about it. Both were the right decisions. But the players kept going even after that.”