Sport Soccer

Saturday 16 December 2017

Keane hails ref's call as Tractor Boys plough on


Jamie Holland

A RELIEVED Roy Keane praised referee Stuart Atwell for allowing his side to plough through the snow and complete a victory over Leicester that will go some way to taking the huge pressure off the manager's shoulders.

But Leicester boss Sven-Goran Eriksson condemned the decision to even start the match and called it "bad PR for English football" and unsuitable for television after the clash went ahead in deepening snow and could have been abandoned midway through.

Keane's side had lost their previous six league games but turned in a solid display to race ahead thanks to a David Norris strike and a double from Jason Scotland.

Attwell pulled the players off the pitch for a 15-minute period in the second half to allow groundstaff to clear the surface. There was a real danger the game would be abandoned and deny Ipswich a much-needed win, but Attwell allowed the game to resume from the 59th-minute mark.

"The referee had a tough decision to make and he was put under a lot of pressure by Leicester," Keane said. "That's what you'd expect and if it was the other way round we would have done the same thing. But he stuck at it and fair play to him for that.

"It wasn't easy and he needed to look after the safety of the players. The fact we were three up put him under more pressure but he made the right decision. The ball was playing okay and both sets of players did well, but ours adapted better to the conditions.

"It was never going to be pretty but we had a nice bit of energy around our team."

Keane's Leicester counterpart Eriksson, though, insisted: "I don't think the game should have started," he said. "Everyone knew that at 5.0 there was going to be heavy snow around Ipswich. The forecast was for more, so the referee's decision was bad for everyone. Who wants to see a game played in conditions like that?

"The game was being shown worldwide but was very bad publicity for football. If I'd been watching the game in a bar in Australia or Sweden I'd have switched off. It's bad PR for English football and also bad for Sky.

"You go skiing on snow, not play football. Had it been 0-0 when we had the 10-minute break, he would have said no more play. But at 3-0 to them, it was very difficult for him to do that. When the referee said about taking the break I said, 'You're the boss'.

"It's very difficult for me to be hard on my players. They know this isn't how we want to play football and the more it went on, the harder it was to move the ball on properly

"It was a pity. My players aren't good on snow. I didn't know that beforehand but I do now."


Ipswich were already cruising when the referee took the players off the pitch but with Keane fearing the worst, Atwell allowed the players back on to complete the job and pick up three vital points.

Norris got the hosts off to a dream start, the captain sending a left-footed shot through a crowd of players and into the net.

The home side were dominating and deservedly doubled their lead in the 27th minute. Rory Fallon was crucial in the build-up, holding up the ball well and turning to pick out Scotland on his left and the Trinidad & Tobago striker drilled a crisp drive across Chris Kirkland and into the net.

Scotland made it three before the break, as Shane O'Connor picked out the striker on the six-yard line for a tap-in.

Eriksson, Keane and Atwell then gathered for a conversation just before the hour mark and the players soon left the field to allow the staff to work on the pitch again for a 10-minute period.

Atwell called for an extra five minutes and then decided to resume from the 59th minute as Ipswich cruised to victory.

Irish Independent

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