Barnwell urges referee Styles not to report Coleman to FA

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The Independent Football

The League Managers' Association yesterday called for "common sense to prevail" after the Fulham manager, Chris Coleman, had to be restrained from confronting the FA Cup final referee, Rob Styles, at the end of Tuesday night's Premiership game at Middlesbrough, which his side drew 1-1.

The League Managers' Association yesterday called for "common sense to prevail" after the Fulham manager, Chris Coleman, had to be restrained from confronting the FA Cup final referee, Rob Styles, at the end of Tuesday night's Premiership game at Middlesbrough, which his side drew 1-1.

The Welshman walked on to the pitch and was on his way towards Styles, who had awarded a controversial last-minute penalty to Boro, when he was restrained and eventually ushered away.

Boudewijn Zenden equalised from the penalty which was awarded when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was brought down by the Fulham goalkeeper, Edwin van der Sar, although television replays suggested that the incident took place outside the penalty area.

"I walked on to the pitch - I should not have done that - and I got held back by a few people, so I never really got a chance to say what I wanted to say to him really, or his assistant," Coleman said. "I am glad I was, because in the heat of the moment there is a lot of emotion involved, maybe I would have said things I would have regretted afterwards, but I was restrained."

The Football Association is waiting to see whether the Hampshire official mentions the incident in his match report, which is expected in the next 24 hours, before deciding if the Fulham manager should face any disciplinary action.

The LMA chief executive, John Barnwell, believes there is no cause for it to be included or for Coleman to be formally reprimanded.

"He is not the first manager to do that, and he won't be the last," Barnwell said. "As long as the manager has not transgressed totally the regulations then I don't see a problem."

Barnwell continued: "When I saw Chris go on the pitch I thought, 'Oh, no, don't confront the referee' because if you do confront the referee, then he has to make a response. Thankfully, he was either restrained or he listened, turned round and marched off the pitch, and from the video evidence I saw, he did not have a verbal confrontation with Rob Styles.

"I think it is just an emotive situation which has, thankfully, not boiled right over. It is understandable, these things do occur, and you would hope that common sense would prevail."

"I can't see that Rob Styles will make any report of it," Barnwell added. "Styles and the other officials quite rightly stayed in the middle of the pitch. The stewards were in front of him and Coleman never got within 30 yards of him.

"The game had finished, Coleman had time to have more thoughts. He corrected himself. People got around him who ushered him off.

"Everybody understands it is emotive and the decision whether it is right or wrong is opinion, we are not going to get involved in that."

With just a minute remaining of Tuesday's match and Fulham leading 1-0, Styles pointed to the spot after goalkeeper Van der Sar had collided with Hasselbaink in a reckless challenge. But television replays showed the incident had occurred outside the box.

Zenden stepped up to level the match and deny the Cottagers what would have been a crucial victory in their battle to steer clear of the relegation zone.

Coleman called for the introduction of video replays after the latest in a series of incidents which have cost his side dear, but was at least able to take heart from a spirited performance which should have resulted in a vital three points in the club's fight for Premiership survival.

That looked to be the case when Brian McBride, who had passed up two earlier opportunities, fired home the opening goal with eight minutes remaining, but Styles' intervention handed Zenden the chance to level with his side's first spot-kick in 13 months, and he did just that.

"We have got a massive game on Saturday against Chelsea, but we can take a lot of heart from the performance and if we keep performing like that in the remaining five games, then we will not have a problem," Coleman said.

"It is just a shame really, we should be going home with three points and we are going home with one through no fault of our own."

The Middlesbrough manager, Steve McClaren, was a relieved man despite seeing his side lose ground in the race for European qualification. His side improved slightly after the break but was still way below par.

"You are 1-0 down in the 82nd minute, you have got eight minutes to go, but what pleased me more than anything is the players never gave up," he said. "We played Fulham here two or three years ago and we were 2-0 up and we ended up drawing 2-2 with two goals in injury time, and that is what pleased me.

"The players could very easily have got their heads down and they did not. We have salvaged a point from it when at the end of the season, that could be a very, very important point.

"We are still in it. What you are going to see is some strange results from now until the end of the season. Bolton and Southampton have drawn tonight - everyone would say Bolton should have won that game comfortably."

This season's Styles

Cup final referee's record in 2004-5

* Mark your card

Matches: 22

Red cards: seven

Yellow cards: 59

Cards per game: 3.45

* Seven who saw red

Muzzy Izzet (Birmingham)

Zat Knight (Fulham)

Cosmin Contra (WBA)

Mattias Jonson (Norwich)

Igor Biscan (Liverpool)

Liam Ridgewell (A Villa)

Jonathan Greening (WBA)

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