PHIL Parkinson believes a “harsh” red card given to winger Filipe Morais was the turning point in his side’s seventh successive defeat, at Bristol City.

Wanderers had just fallen behind to £5.3million striker Famara Diedhiou’s 40th minute strike when referee Tony Harrington issued a second yellow card to Morais for a challenge on Callum O’Dowda.

Parkinson felt Morais’s first yellow, issued for a trip on Korey Smith, had been innocuous enough to warrant more leniency from the Cleveland official.

“The sending off is very harsh,” he told The Bolton News. “The first booking is just about a foul, so to get a yellow is tough enough. But the second one – Phil went to ground but pulled out of the challenge. I think the ref, knowing how harsh the first caution had been, could have managed the second one.

“There has to be an element in football where it’s just a foul, not automatically a yellow card.

“We said at half time to Fil it was reckless and he should have stayed on his feet but I think we were maybe a bit harsh with him – it was tough to be sent off for that.”

Wanderers have now gone nearly 11 hours without a goal, extending the club record to seven games.

Failure to beat Aston Villa on Saturday would also mean they equal the second-worst start to a season, matching Dougie Freedman’s side of 2013/14.

But there were aspects of the performance which pleased Parkinson, in particular the debut of Karl Henry – signed 24 hours before kick-off and playing his first game in 2017.

A deflected Aiden Flint goal killed off Wanderers’ resistance but the Whites boss thought the performance was a significant improvement on the defeat against Brentford a few days earlier.

“I think from where we were on Saturday we restored some pride in terms of the way we played,” he said. “We started well, stuck to the gameplan and okay we conceded a goal but we were still very much in the game.

“We were up against it in the second half and chances were always going to be at a premium. We created a couple of decent ones.

“The second one killed it for us but as everyone reminded me a couple of years ago Bolton came here, capitulated, and got beat 6-0.

“I think the experience in the team shone through and I have to take heart from that. It’s a very tough run we have been through.

“It has been tough for the staff, the players, the fans and the chairman but tonight we stood strong as a team.”