Thursday 24 May 2018

Benitez baffled by refereeing decisions going against Magpies

Benitez is getting frustrated with the consistency of decisions that seem to be going against his side. Photo: PA News
Benitez is getting frustrated with the consistency of decisions that seem to be going against his side. Photo: PA News

Colin Young

Rafa Benitez claims "strange refereeing decisions" could cost Newcastle the Championship title or even promotion back to the Premier League. The Magpies manager has grown increasingly exasperated with the poor standard of officials in the EFL, which he believes has cost his side points this season.

And since Newcastle had two players sent off by referee Stephen Martin at Nottingham Forest in December - decisions later rescinded by the FA - the Newcastle boss feels there has been a conspiracy against his team. Two weeks ago, Newcastle were denied a perfectly good goal against Burton Albion, when Keith Stroud disallowed Matt Ritchie's strike for encroachment at a penalty. Although Newcastle won the game 1-0, Stroud was suspended the following week.

Benitez was unable to hide his frustration with Christopher Kavanagh on Friday night after his side were denied a vital win by a late Leeds equaliser. Benitez was furious with Kavanagh, who took charge of his first Premier League game last week. He played five additional minutes, allowing Chris Wood to strike in the dying seconds.

Throughout the game, Benitez and his coaching staff harangued fourth official Trevor Kettle as a number of decisions went against them in the promotion clash with Gary Monk's side, who moved up into joint fourth with the 1-1 draw.

Benitez admitted he has wasted more of his energy on the Football League officials than he thought possible this season. "To be fair, I was not expecting this from the last four or five games, but after Nottingham Forest, then maybe I have to keep an eye on it," he said. "I don't have to be careful about what I say. I was very correct with the referees and I was defending them the other day when everyone could see there was a massive mistake. I am and I have been very, very polite with them, but still I can be upset if I don't like something.

"I do not understand these decisions. I do not understand why they go against us. I think the fans realise, after these four or five games, that we don't have an explanation why we have these decisions."

Newcastle travel to Mick McCarthy's Ipswich tomorrow, and Ireland striker Daryl Murphy, a former Portman Road favourite, is likely to be recalled, with top scorer Dwight Gayle still ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Meanwhile, former Irish international Chris Hughton is on the verge of promotion with Brighton after his side's win at Wolves on Friday. A home win over Wigan tomorrow would effectively confirm their return to the top flight for the first time since 1983 because their goal difference over Huddersfield is so superior.

Third-placed Huddersfield are now eight points behind Newcastle with game in hand. Their game tomorrow at Derby kicks off two hours after Brighton.

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