Incensed Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold was so furious with refereeing decisions in his side's goalless draw with Wellington he did not show up to his post-match press conference for fear of being fined.
Assistant Steve Corica was left to explain Arnold's absence at Allianz Stadium on Thursday night, following a match highlighted by a total eight yellow cards and 43 fouls that left the Sky Blues winless from four matches.
While the yellow cards were evenly spread, Sydney conceded 29 fouls to the Phoenix's 14 with striker Shane Smeltz responsible for seven.
Referee Chris Beath copped flack from viewers both online and in the 9253-strong crowd for perceived injustices against the home side they believed cut into the rhythm of a stop-start game in which Sydney squandered numerous chances.
"He's a little bit frustrated with the way things went tonight and a few of the decisions that were made, so he thought it would be best after he's been fined a few times that I come down," Corica said.
Corica agreed with Arnold's stance that many of the fouls "were a bit harsh", believing Sydney were the better side but could not convert on the final pass.
"We're not normally a fouling team," he said.
"A lot of them weren't fouls, that's my honest opinion.
"And when the game is like that, it's very difficult then to get momentum to keep the ball rolling, to get any kind of possession going."
It was indeed that type of match.
Skipper Alex Brosque became another frustrated head as he duelled with Beath over decisions and faced off with Phoenix defender Manny Muscat.
It was Brosque who had the better of Sydney's 15 shots, and came close to scoring the winner seven minutes from time when he hit the post and the ball bounced painfully across the face of goal.
He also sent two hurtling wide on the back of some beautiful build-up play from Filip Holosko, a standout performer on a night when Wellington pulled the strings in the midfield.
Midway through the cramped proceedings, a smaller-than-usual gathering of Sydney's The Cove supporters made clear their feelings about Sunday's News Corp Australia article which named almost 200 people banned from matches.
"You can name us, try and shame us, but you'll never break us," read the first of the group's banners, while another read "FFA standing silent as our rights are trampled" in a reference to Football Federation Australia's belated response this week.
Wellington coach Ernie Merrick was far merrier, happy to head back to New Zealand with point and praising a solid midfield performance while admitting his side were "light on up front".
He did not take any issue with Beath's refereeing.
"They should read the stats ... they fouled twice as often as we did, and yet both sides got four yellow cards. But they were the ones that fouled a lot," Merrick said.
"But I'm not going to get into all that though, it's just all part of the game."