SALISBURY boss Steve Claridge insisted he had “no influence” over the decision to call off his side’s clash at Poole Town last night, amid claims from Dolphins boss Tom Killick that Claridge had put the referee “in a very difficult position”.

The Southern League South clash at Black Gold Stadium was postponed at around 7:15pm due to a waterlogged pitch, half an hour before the scheduled kick-off time, despite it having passed an earlier inspection.

Speaking to BBC Radio Solent, Killick said: “It was a bizarre and frustrating set of circumstances really because ironically the local referee that we called in to do the pitch inspection at lunchtime was actually the assistant match referee.

“So he’s come down at lunchtime and said that the pitch is playable and then five hours later, and in that time the weather had been good, the pitch was in markedly better condition.

“And then the match referee decided that it wasn’t playable.

“But the other difficulty was that both sets of players wanted to play, but the Salisbury manager thought there was a risk that one of his players could get injured. He communicated that to the match referee and then I think that puts the match referee in a very difficult position.

“It’s strange because I spoke to two of their players and they said there were only two players on their squad that didn’t want to play. One wasn’t even in the squad and one was a sub.

“The rest of them felt it was fine to play. But the referee has been put in a difficult position so he’s made the decision he has.”

He added: “Everyone is entitled to their opinion and their manager didn’t want to play.

“So he may have his own reasons for that in terms of people that were available and people that were not available.

“He’s entitled to communicate a view to the referee in the hope that that’s going to influence the referee into a decision that he wants the referee to make.

“It’s not something that I would get involved in.

“But to be fair to the referee, if he’s being told that if something happens to someone, he’ll be held responsible for it, then he’s put in a very difficult position.”

He continued: “I feel sorry for the supporters.

“They’ve turned up to watch a game and I feel sorry for both sets of players because I’ve spoken to both their forwards who tell me a huge, overwhelming majority of their squad wanted to play the match.”

In response, former Cherries striker Claridge said: “I had no influence on that game being called off whatsoever.

“I don’t really understand where he (Killick) is coming from.

“I didn’t approach the referee, it was my assistant manager and a player, who got to the ground before I did and went and had a look at the pitch and came back and said it’s not playable. As far as I was concerned, I left it that the linesman and referee would go down and deal with it.

“After that I saw the referee go out onto the pitch, he threw a ball up in the air and the ball just didn’t bounce, it hit the ground and just stopped.

“Clearly, as we walked over and went down the pitch it got progressively worse and in the corner it was totally unplayable.

He continued: “It was clearly not safe under those conditions.

“We have to think about the safety of the players as well and the referee made his decision, purely and simply on that assessment.”

Asked if it was true that most of Salisbury’s players wanted the game to go ahead, Claridge replied: “Like a lot of things that Tommy’s said, some is a complete fabrication and some are half truth. That is a complete fabrication.

“That is not true that most of our players wanted to play. Most of our players hadn’t even gone onto the pitch and hadn’t even seen what it was like, so unless he’s been in our dressing room and I didn’t know about it then that’s simply not true.”