Football: Kendall defends Southall

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The Independent Online
HOWARD KENDALL, the Everton manager, yesterday criticised the referee who sent off his keeper, Neville Southall, for catching the ball outside his area in Monday's defeat to QPR. He will now serve an automatic ban.

'A yellow card would have been sufficient punishment,' Kendall said, adding that he felt the referee, Gerald Ashby, had failed to apply the spirit of the law. He said: 'The ruling was brought in to prevent keepers from handling outside the box to deny an opponent a goalscoring chance. It's a good rule if applied properly, but Neville did not deliberately try to prevent Les Ferdinand scoring for Rangers.

'It was not a pre-meditated act. Our defender, Dave Watson, headed the ball straight at Neville and I felt a yellow card would have been sufficient.'

Gary Charles, Nottingham Forest's England full-back, and Forest's Scottish Under-21 international, Terry Wilson, take their first steps back today following lengthy injuries. Charles (knee) and Wilson (Achilles tendon and hamstring) play for the reserves against Sheffield Wednesday.

Premier League aggregate attendances have broken through the 250,000 barrier for the first time. The official combined gates for the 10 Premier League games on Monday totalled 266,101. That is nearly 40,000 up on the corresponding day last year - a Saturday - for the same number of matches in the old Barclays League First Division. Then, the 226,333 figure included the Leeds v Manchester United fixture that was played 24 hours later for ITV live screening.

Adrian Cook, the Premier League's assistant secretary, said: 'This is is a significant rise, not just a few extra fans.'

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