Tuesday 16 January 2018

O'Neill pleads for consistency

Sunderland 2 Fulham 2

Damian Spellman

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill pleaded with referees to be consistent over handball decisions after seeing his side fight back to deny Fulham victory.

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill pleaded with referees to be consistent over handball decisions after seeing his side fight back to deny Fulham victory.

Match official Mark Halsey did award two spot-kicks in the 2-2 draw, but waved away appeals for two more after Fulham's Emmanuel Frimpong and Philippe Senderos found themselves in the spotlight.

A frustrated O'Neill said: "It looked a pretty clear-cut penalty from Senderos handling the ball, and the referee has chosen not to give it.

"I suppose it sounds like a bit of a moan and a bit of a rant, but last week there were two penalty incidents in the game and to me, both were penalties given the directives that we have been given by the referees this season."

It was a game which revolved on a series of debatable penalty decisions, with Halsey enduring a testing afternoon on Wearside.

He pointed to the spot for the first time after 16 minutes and Dimitar Berbatov converted in imperious fashion. Fulham extended their lead 10 minutes before the break when full-back Sascha Riether tapped home after Ashkan Dejagah's shot, but the home side grabbed a lifeline within two minutes.

Halsey ruled that Senderos had tugged Danny Graham's shirt and Craig Gardner smashed home the resulting penalty, setting the stage for Stephane Sessegnon to claim a point with the Black Cats turning in a vastly-improved second-half display.

Fulham boss Martin Jol was disappointed his side could not hang on to the lead, but satisfied to emerge with another point for their survival fund.

"Before today, if they had beaten us, they would have been on 32 points as well," he said. "On one hand, it's a good point and on the other hand, three points would have meant we had done the business today, but we didn't."

Irish Independent

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