DOUGIE Freedman claims Leon Barnett got away with blue-and-white murder in Saturday’s derby thriller.

The Wigan Athletic defender was spared a straight red card on 52 minutes by referee Darren Drysdale for a trip on Liam Trotter.

Drysdale consulted his assistant Scott Oldham before deciding it was not a professional foul – sparking scenes of disbelief in the Wanderers dugout.

“I thought the referee was fantastic today but that decision he made, I cannot understand what he or his assistant were thinking,” he said.

“We were through on goal and he was tripped. The explanation I was given was that there was a covering defender. But I have looked back at the replays and he was 30 yards away.

“I find it astonishing but I try my best not to have a go at the referee.

“We could have won the game if we had taken the chances we created.

“It’s a challenging time but I thought the crowd got right in behind us, it was a great atmosphere.

“We’re getting through this with spirit and commitment. I’m a young manager and I’m trying to be positive and this team is refusing to lie down.”

Freedman was none too pleased at his side’s defending in the final 10 minutes and, in particular, the late penalty conceded by Alex Baptiste for a trip on Callum McManaman.

“We worked hard on exactly what they do,” he said.

“They try and move you around and cut back crosses.

“The last 10 minutes did concern me – but sometimes you have to hold up your hands and concede that the opposition manager made decisions and substitutions that gave us problems at the end.

“But overall, we had three games in a week and gave it a right good go against a Wigan side who changed six players.”

Once again Wanderers paid dearly for not taking their chances and rained in 22 shots on Ali Al-Habsi’s goal.

Freedman admits wastefulness in front of goal is the biggest problem his team have at present.

“Early in the season we found it difficult with our defensive unit but I think now we’re looking stronger.

“We had a pattern of play that I don’t think Wigan could handle for 50-60 minutes.

“When the opportunities come, that’s the difference in this division.

“You need two difference makers up front like Leicester or Burnley and it can make the world of difference.”