Friday 31 March 2017

Contentious call leaves Hughes fuming

Fulham 1 Tottenham 2

Ben Rumsby

Referee Mike Dean last night refused to explain his decision to award one of the most controversial goals of the season after it handed Tottenham another comeback victory and Mark Hughes his first Premier League defeat as Fulham boss.

Referee Dean allowed Tom Huddlestone's 63rd-minute winner to stand at Craven Cottage yesterday afternoon after assistant Martin Yerby had initially flagged William Gallas offside. The call infuriated the Fulham fans and Hughes, who sought a meeting with Dean after the match only to be told the official had already left the ground.

That was after the referee turned down an interview request from the media to allow him to clarify his position over the goal, which he awarded following protests from Spurs and a brief summit with Yerby. Hughes had calmed down by the time he conducted his own post-match debrief almost an hour after his side's 2-1 defeat.

"The goal should have been wiped out because Gallas is in an offside position as the ball is struck by Huddlestone," Hughes said of the winner, which did take a slight deflection off Chris Baird but was struck by Huddlestone when Gallas was already in an offside position.

"The only grey area which I thought of is whether it hit one of our players on the way through. Maybe then the argument is he's played him on because he's the last player to touch the ball.

"I think Mike Dean went over to the assistant linesman to ask whether Gallas had touched the ball. The assistant obviously said, 'No he didn't'."

But Hughes insisted Gallas' very presence in front of goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer should have been enough for the goal to have been chalked off for interference.

"Mark Schwarzer has to hold his position until the ball actually reaches where Gallas is, because he's thinking at some point Gallas may stick a toe out and deflect it," added former Manchester City manager Hughes. "To say he's not interfering or not in his eyeline is completely at odds with the truth."

Hughes also suggested Dean had been prompted to challenge Yerby's original decision by Huddlestone and his team-mates. "I think Huddlestone went over," Hughes said.

"He was the first to get into Mike Dean's face and obviously made a compelling argument."

Hughes confronted Dean after the final whistle and was told to visit the referee once they had left the field.

"I'd like a little bit of clarification," said Hughes, before learning the official had already left the stadium. If he's made a genuine mistake, he'll admit to it, but it doesn't do us any good so what's the point?"

Fulham -- the brighter of the two teams in the opening exchanges -- had deservedly taken the lead on the half-hour mark when Diomansy Kamara marked his first Premier League start for almost a year with his first goal for the Cottagers in even longer, but Roman Pavlyuchenko levelled almost immediately after brilliant play from Rafael van der Vaart. After Huddlestone's goal was awarded, the home side continued to pour forward in the closing moments but they were unable to find the goal that would have preserved their unbeaten record.

The match, however, will be remembered for Dean's contentious call and he and his fellow officials left the field to chants of, "You don't know what you're doing!"

Sunday Independent

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