Brighton maintained their leadership of League One but they were denied the chance to widen the gap at the top by the error of a referee's assistant.
With the home side 1-0 up and injury time approaching, Steve Fletcher, a Bournemouth substitute, and the Brighton defender Tommy Elphick both appeared to handle as they contested a high ball just outside the Brighton penalty area. Darren Sheldrake, the referee, gave a free-kick to Bournemouth a yard outside the Brighton penalty area, and booked Elphick.
So far, so contentious. But then the referee's assistant John Farries added to the controversy by signalling a penalty. Sheldrake followed his advice, pointed to the spot, and Danny Pugh equalised. Replays, though, suggested that the offence had taken place outside the area, and that Farries had been ahead of play when the incident occurred.
The Brighton manager Gus Poyet did not blame Sheldrake, but he accused Farries of backpedalling until he was level with the 18-yard line before flagging. "If he is in the right position and he makes a mistake, you have to accept it. But he was not," Poyet said. "He was six or seven yards forward, at the wrong angle and he cannot see exactly the line. He's going to go home and tell his family and say 'Have a look on television, I'm there, I'm famous now'."
Eddie Howe, the Bournemouth manager, was also bemused. "Strange decision," he said. "We had that last week when a linesman got involved where I don't think he should have done. It cost us and it has gone for us this week, but I think they should leave it to the referee."
Had Brighton taken a number of chances, Farries' intervention would have been no more than a footnote. But they could only muster Kazenga LuaLua's superb 25-yard strike on the hour. That forced Bournemouth to abandon a negative approach that Brighton will have to learn to overcome, and the visitors played some decent stuff. But they might have been reduced to 10 men when Michael Symes, their lone forward, elbowed Elphick and was shown a yellow card. "Red or nothing," Poyet said. "I can't accept yellow."
He also found it hard to accept the reaction of a small section of the crowd to his defenders' refusal to hoof the ball long. "If someone starts kicking [the ball long] because the fans shout, he's going to be out of the team," Poyet said. "If they want Brighton to change the style of play when we are at the top, they need another manager."Reuse content