Pulis vents fury at Delap dismissal as Stoke creep past Crawley
Crawley Town 0 Stoke City 2
Stoke boss Tony Pulis called for discussions between clubs and referees yesterday, after Rory Delap was sent off for a challenge that divided opinion between the managers and the match officials.
Referee Mike Jones showed no sign of reaching for a card of any colour when Delap appeared to win the ball in a one-footed challenge with David Hunt, the Crawley right-back, until Lee Probert, the fourth official, indicated that he considered the tackle worthy of a red for "excessive force".
"Professional people and referees are so far apart sometimes in what they see as fair or reckless challenges," Pulis said.
"We've had a fourth official, Lee Probert, today who has got Rory Delap sent off. But he's refereed a game, Liverpool v Newcastle (on December 30), and not even booked a player for what was the worst challenge in the Premier League this year -- for (Yohan) Cabaye's challenge on (Jay) Spearing. Lee was only five yards away.
"I am not here to slaughter referees. I'm trying to be constructive and say we have to get together and talk about incidents. I am just saying there is a problem."
Yet Steve Evans, the Crawley manager, understood the decision. "My first impression was a red by today's standards," he said. "If your leg is straight and off the ground, you are going to go."
Evans felt his side, too, had been harshly treated, first by the award of the penalty from which Stoke took the lead shortly before half-time, when Ryan Shawcross fell under a challenge by Kyle McFadzean. He also said that Shawcross had handled a late effort by Sanchez Watt.
"On replays it's clear it's not a penalty," Evans said. "There is no contact. And is there any excuse for missing Shawcross' handball on the line?" The dismissal of Delap seemed to take the sting out of Crawley's attacks rather than encouraging the League Two side. On 42 minutes Jon Walters nodded on a free-kick by Glenn Whelan and Shawcross' tumble was judged worthy of a penalty. Walters converted.
Another free-kick from Whelan seven minutes into the second half was headed home at the far post by Crouch (left) and, after that, Stoke looked safe. (© Independent News Service)