Sunderland 2 Fulham 2: Martin O'Neill asks for penalty consistency with team on cusp of relegation fight

Two penalties were awarded in match at the Stadium of Light

Martin O'Neill believes referees are not sticking to the guidelines they presented to managers regarding penalties at the start of the season. O'Neill has seen his side have a penalty appeal turned down in each of their last two games. Those decisions could yet prove crucial. Sunderland remain on the cusp of a serious relegation fight, after drawing 2-2 against Fulham. They travel to resurgent Queen's Park Rangers next week, and then face a run of Manchester United, Chelsea and Newcastle in three of the following four games.

Last week, they were denied what appeared to be a fairly nailed on penalty when West Brom's Gareth McAuley blocked Adam Johnson's shot with his arm. On Saturday Sunderland were awarded one against Fulham, when Philippe Senderos grabbed hold of Danny Graham and Craig Gardner scored it, giving Sunderland a lifeline back into a game in which they were trailing 2-0 following a Dimitar Berbatov penalty and a Sascha Riether goal. However, after Stéphane Sessègnon had equalised in the 70th minute, they were denied a second penalty when Senderos handled the ball in his penalty area.

"When the referee came in to speak to us it seemed reasonably clear," said O'Neill. "We had a meeting and he showed us some examples. Whether we thought those things were penalties 10 or 15 years ago is a different issue. It's not the point.

"I spoke to the referee after the game and he thinks there are a lot of soft penalties and I'm not disagreeing with that in general, but that's not the point. If these are the rules now, and the directives we have to adhere to, then it's a penalty. That's the frustration.

"What happened last week just adds to the frustration. I think referees should be reasonably clear about what is and isn't a handball – maybe it just hasn't been passed on to me yet. I spoke to Mark [Halsey, the referee on Saturday] and, to be fair, he allowed me in to his changing room.

"I told him that I thought the penalty incident was absolutely clear cut. I've seen it twice, in slow motion and in real time but he didn't think it was a deliberate handball. Given the rules that he was part of, it's a penalty. Senderos swung around and initially the ref might not have seen it, but he carried on swinging around and hit the ball. He followed through with it. It's a penalty and it's as simple as that.

"It doesn't matter how many penalties you have given in a game. If there is another incident in the last three or four minutes, it's still a penalty."

That overshadowed a brave fightback after a grim opening. Both teams have work to do before they can feel safe, as Martin Jol admitted.

"We still need a couple more wins to be safe," he said. "Deep down I don't think we will get dragged into relegation, we always try to look up but on the other hand if you look at the situation, Wigan 24 points, Southampton 27, there are still 10 games to go and even QPR can stay up with six wins.

"It is not easy. I feel even with 33 points now you will go down. We have been in the right place at the right moments. I expect Sunderland and Fulham to be in the Premier League next season although I am not a wizard and I don't have a crystal ball."

Goals: Sunderland Gardner pen 37, Sessègnon 70. Fulham Berbatov pen 16, Riether 34.

Substitutions: Sunderland McClean (Graham, 76). Fulham Frimpong (Karagounis, 65), Emanuelson (Duff, 80), Rodallega (Dejagah, 85).

Bookings: Sunderland N'Diaye. Fulham Hangeland, Sidwell, Riether. Man of the match Dejagah.

Match rating 5/10. Possession: Sunderland 49%. Fulham 51%. Attempts on target: Sunderland 5. Fulham 5. Referee M Halsey (Lancashire). Attendance 39,312.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn