Keith Hill lamented the decision to send off captain Peter Cavanagh in Rochdale's 1-0 defeat at Burton.
The Brewers won the game with a 44th-minute own goal by Oliver Lancashire as he tried to intercept a pass aimed for debutant Rene Howe by Billy Kee.
However, Hill was furious with referee Seb Stockbridge's decision to send off Dale skipper Cavanagh after only seven minutes for a high challenge on midfielder Robbie Weir.
The Dale manager admitted he thought his captain was fortunate to escape a booking for a challenge that left Weir needing treatment for an eye injury with only two minutes on the clock but he was less than happy with the dismissal.
He said: "I don't think I need to look at it again because 90 per cent of the crowd will tell you it wasn't a sending off if they're honest.
"I know that all the coaches and all the players on both benches and the majority of the players on the pitch realise that it wasn't a sending off. It was purely accidental even if Peter did make contact.
"I think what helped to make the referee's decision was the challenge previously when Peter probably should have been booked."
Hill put his disappointment with the Cavanagh incident to one side to praise his side for making Burton fight all the way for victory.
He said: "When things like that happen in the first 10 minutes it can shock you and we could have rolled over - but we didn't and I was really pleased with the possession we had.
"Unfortunately when you're one player down you don't have so much end product but I thought we acquitted ourselves well and that gives me a lot of encouragement for the future."