Phil Parkinson accused referee Stuart Attwell of not using his common-sense after Kyle Bennett was involved in a double sending off on his City debut.
The on-loan winger was red-carded with Preston midfielder Neil Kilkenny after just 25 minutes of last night’s goalless draw at Valley Parade.
City may look to appeal to get the potential three-game ban reduced because of the lack of force involved in their tussle.
Both players did raise their arms but Parkinson and opposite number Simon Grayson felt the official was too hasty to send them packing.
Parkinson said: “Stuart Attwell is a ref who came into the Premier League with a great fanfare. We’ve had him before and he’s always refereed well.
“But I thought he could have used his common-sense. Two of the most technical players on the pitch got brought off and it looked innocuous to me.
“If they did raise their hands, then he’ll say technically he was right. But for me refereeing is about common-sense and that’s got to prevail.
“Benno started the game really bright. He’s a terrific talent and a player I was excited to see. I knew our supporters would warm to him because he has real ability – but unfortunately it was not to be.”
Grayson added: “The ref could have given himself a bit more breathing space and thought longer about it. Yellow cards for both players would have been a fair outcome.”
The two red cards marred a lively game which saw City pick up their first clean sheet since November 2. It was a fitting comeback for Andrew Davies after nearly four months out following his knee operation.
Parkinson said: “To be out that long, not have a reserve game and then come in and play like that – my goodness me!
“It’s a great achievement. I wasn’t too happy with his mazy runs down the left wing but he was just brilliant.
“He’s a presence at the back and I thought Batesy (Matthew Bates) did well in an unorthodox position as well. While Davo’s feeling his way back in, it’s important we don’t get exposed and he knew Batesy would be strong next to him.”
Fourth-placed Preston, who have lost only twice away all season, hit the woodwork but City also had their chances. Aaron Mclean had the best on his home debut but shot straight at the keeper.
Parkinson said: “It was a bit of chess (after the sendings off). We had a gamble by leaving our front two at the top of the pitch and they went more solid.
“I thought it was two honest teams out there in difficult conditions. I’ve got to give our ground staff enormous credit because the pitch held up really well after all the rain we’ve had.”
Parkinson also handed a debut to Adam Reach and he was delighted with the Middlesbrough winger’s contribution.
The City boss said: “Adam got better and better as the game wore on. The supporters saw he’s a great athlete.
“It was difficult for him because when we went to 4-3-2 he had to stay narrow and do a job for the team. But his effort was immense and you can see he’s a confident boy.”
Meanwhile, Northampton are expected to take over Alan Connell’s contract. The deal was close to being done last night.