Opposition view: Bolton Wanderers unhappy with key red card decision during Cobblers draw
The midfielder saw red after 28 minutes when challenging Aaron McGowan with Bolton trailing 1-0 to Kieron Bowie’s early opener. Nonetheless, the visitors rescued a point through Carlos Mendes Gomes late on.
Atherton carried out post-match media duties in place of Ian Evatt after the Bolton boss was sent off for an incident at half-time.
"I didn't see the red card from my seat at the time but I've watched it back and I don't think it's a sending off,” said Atherton. “I spoke to the fourth official and he didn't think it was a red card either so that’s disappointing. I don't know if we will appeal. That will be up to the gaffer and the club but we responded really well in the second half."
On Evatt's red card, Atherton explained: "I'm unsure why he was sent off. He went in at half-time and wanted to speak to the referee but he wasn't angry.
"He was just talking to the ref but we went back in the changing room and we were about to address the players for the half-time team talk but the referee summoned him back. I think he (Evatt) thought the ref was going to apologise but he's given him the red so that's as much as I know about it.”
Reflecting on the game, Atherton added: "We didn't start well, we all know that, but we reacted brilliantly and to dominate the second half like we did, and get a point, it shows big character from the players.
"We're no fools, we knew what we would be come up against when we turned up and we spoke to the players about that but we just didn't start the game well and it grew from that.
"The red card makes it a big uphill challenge but we made the tactical decision to change formation at half-time and I thought we took the game to them in the second half and dominated the ball. We fully deserved at least a point and we're delighted to come away with something."