Aston Villa 0, Portsmouth 0: Redknapp calls for life ban as linesman is cut

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The Independent Online

As 25th anniversary presents go, the point Harry Redknapp took away from Villa Park yesterday was hardly something to show the grandkids, no matter how gutsily earned. Instead the Portsmouth manager, who began his stint in gafferdom way back in October 1983, will bitterly remember this afternoon for a nasty incident involving the fans behind the visitors' bench.

In the closing minutes a 50p coin was thrown, presumably at Redknapp who also came in for abuse from the same section in last season's corresponding fixture, but which hit the assistant referee, Phil Sharp, drawing blood on his forehead and requiring medical attention. It was a shameful end and one which inevitably attracted Redknapp's fury.

"Some idiot threw an object and it was probably at me," he said. "You may say I have some previous here but who does deserve to have things thrown at them by morons, by very brave people? I just feel sorry for the linesman who it hit. I mean, who does that, throw that at someone and cut their head open? Hopefully they find out who it was and ban him for life."

Redknapp will be relieved to know that they believe Villa and the police will together examine CCTC footage and that the word from the FA is that they are demanding firm action. Redknapp is adamant it should be iron firm. "I sometimes think football clubs are afraid of supporters," he said. "They don't come out and condemn what happens stringly enough. I didn't see it happen when Sol Campbell was treated so badly at Spurs the other day. I just hope they do it here now."

With that Redknapp went on to deliver his well-practised speech about the declining moral code among fans. Grandfathers, with their grandkids by the side shout their obscentities and stick the finger up as the visiting coach goes past and Redknapp wonders what is going on. Our 'Arry is no angel, but his concerns are genuine and so is his beseeching to the authorities. It is time for clubs to face up to the mob.

Pleasingly, Villa say they are intent on doing so, announcing that, if caught, the coin-thrower will indeed be banned for life. And their manager Martin O'Neill appeared suitably distraught. "It was totally unacceptable, mindless," he said. "That could have been very serious."

Meanwhile, a game that at times threatened to be very entertaining had taken place and it was one that O'Neill was adamant his side should won. And, yes, such was Villa's second-domination that they would have been good value for the full return. Yet they could have so easily gone behind had Jermain Defoe converted Armand Trarore's rebound in the six-yard box around the half hour.

As the match wore on it seemed the away side were to pay dearly this miss. Yet as much they huffed and puffed, very few chances came Villa's way. A lot of that was down to the superlative showing of the ageless Sol Campbell. While he summed up all that was good about Portsmouth rearguard effort, the red card shown to Sean Davis was the flip side in the 80th minute. Yet the midfielder's crime of receiving two yellow cards was soon to be put into its perspective.

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