Paul Sturrock called for an end to Premier League referees being used in Championship matches after Steve Bennett produced a series of controversial decisions yesterday. The Sheffield Wednesday manager said that this result would have been different had Bennett not awarded David Healy the decisive penalty and sent off Brad Jones in the same incident after 67 minutes.
Sturrock said that he wanted to send a message to the Premier League: "I would like them to keep their referees. They don't seem to be able to handle the step down and the edge that they miss in Premiership games. Leave us alone and let us stick to our own referees.'' He plans to appeal against Jones' red card and claims that other managers support his views on Premiership referees. "I feel strongly about this,'' he said. "I've had conversations with other Championship managers and they say exactly the same thing.''
When Healy was brought down by the Wednesday goalkeeper Jones, he appeared to have deliberately left a leg trailing, having lost control of the ball, so that he could fall. It also seemed that contact was made outside the penalty area.
The Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell had a different opinion. "From where I was sitting, it looked like a penalty and nobody complained,'' he said.
Wednesday had several strong penalty claims of their own turned away. The most blatant took place shortly after the goal when Paul Butler seemed to climb on to Graham Coughlan.
It was particularly frustrating as Wednesday had been the more threatening side before falling behind. Deon Burton spurned the easiest chance. Lloyd Sam unintentionally created it with a cross that blew off course and ended up striking the inside of a post before falling to Burton, but he scooped the ball over.
Wednesday were unlucky again shortly after half-time. Chris Brunt launched a speedy counter-attack and picked out Sam, who dragged the ball back for Burton O'Brien, whose goalbound shot deflected wide. Wednesday still menaced after half-time, with Frank Simek's drive striking Gary Kelly, leading to appeals for handball. The home team soon regretted their profligacy. Stephen Crainey slid a long pass along the left flank and Ian Westlake's dummy allowed Healy to stay onside and burst through. Jones raced out and the match's most controversial incident followed.
Wednesday laboured hard in search of an equaliser. There was a late flurry of chances from a string of corners but Butler and Matthew Kilgallon defended in an exemplary manner.
Goals: Healy pen (70).
Sheffield Wednesday (4-5-1): Jones; Simek, Coughlan, Bougherra, Spurr; Sam (Bullen, 75), Whelan, O'Brien, Brunt (Lunt, 81), Hills (Adamson, 67); Burton. Substitutes not used: McClements, McAllister.
Leeds United (4-4-2): Warner; Kelly, Kilgallon, Butler, Crainey; Carole (Foxe, 80), Westlake, Derry, Lewis; Healy, Moore. Substitutes not used: Sullivan (gk), Richardson, Blake, Beckford.
Booked: Sheffield Wednesday Sam.
Sent off: Jones (67).
Referee: S Bennett (Kent).
Man of the match: Kilgallon.
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