Teddy Sheringham has strenuously denied an accusation that he dived to earn a penalty in Tottenham's 4-0 Worthington Cup third round tie at Tranmere on Tuesday.
In the 20th minute the England striker tumbled inside the penalty area after what appeared minimal contact with the Rovers defender Mickey Mellon, but referee Phil Dowd had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Sheringham himself converted to send Spurs on their way to a comfortable victory at Prenton Park.
Dave Watson, the Tranmere manager, later claimed Sheringham had been "embarrassed" by the penalty, adding: "It wasn't a penalty, it was as clear as that and everyone in the stadium could see that." The incident helped turn what had looked a tricky match into a relative stroll for the Premiership side, but Sheringham claimed his conscience was clear.
He said: "I think it was a silly challenge from the defender and a definite penalty in my view. I've got no conscience about that. I'm going nowhere as such and got a shove in the back and that took me over.
"The boys might think I'm having a dive but that's not the case at all. The fellow barged me over, simple as that. I wasn't looking for it, I wasn't using my experience, I went to get the ball and he's barged me over."
Dowd came in for criticism from both managers after Rovers' Mellon and Spurs' Tim Sherwood were given their marching orders for what appeared minor offences and the entire night was punctuated by a succession of yellow cards.
Despite Tottenham's comfortable win following strikes from Darren Anderton, Gus Poyet and Sergei Rebrov, their manager Glenn Hoddle said: "Some of the bookings for both sides were ridiculous and at the end of the day you feel sorry for the referee.
"But I've got to be honest and say he was poor tonight. I can't defend him. Sometimes you have to defend the referee but that wasn't good enough.
"We've got nine matches tonight – why Premiership referees can't referee tonight I do not know. I think sometimes the referees need to analyse their game and tonight that wasn't good enough."
Hoddle signalled his intentions by fielding a strong line-up and, though he admitted that was partly because injuries gave him no option, he could not deny that the club is taking the competition very seriously.
Hoddle added: "For us it's an important cup, it's a way into Europe, and a trophy that realistically the club is looking to win.
"To come here and play Tranmere, who are a team with good confidence at the moment, and get a clean sheet is a marvellous performance from the boys. We're in the hat, that's the main thing."
He added: "It could have been a tough game, but when you get in front and with the composure the players have got at the moment we've always felt we were going to win it.
"With the fella [Mellon] then getting sent off as well, that probably played into our hands. We played some good stuff after that and the second goal was the killer.
"It could have changed. They had a nice spell just before half-time when the crowd got behind them at set-pieces. If they had got a goal then all of a sudden you can get jittery. But we held firm and the second and third goals killed them off."Reuse content