Clash 'an accident'

CLIVE Platt could not believe his eyes when referee Mike Thorpe showed him a straight red card against Bolton on Saturday.One minute Platt was continuing his preparations for his first taste of Championship football, at Sheffield United in a week's time; the next he was trudging off to the dressing room in disbelief, sent off for violent conduct against Bolton defender Lubomir Michalik.

By Carl Marston

CLIVE Platt could not believe his eyes when referee Mike Thorpe showed him a straight red card against Bolton on Saturday.

One minute Platt was continuing his preparations for his first taste of Championship football, at Sheffield United in a week's time; the next he was trudging off to the dressing room in disbelief, sent off for violent conduct against Bolton defender Lubomir Michalik.

Platt looks set to serve a three-match suspension, a stiff punishment for what was only a pre-season fixture. He used his elbow in the challenge with the Slovakian international.


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“I know that I caught him but it was unintentional. I was jumping for the ball, and he was climbing all over my back,” insisted Platt.

“I caught him with my arm, but it was accidental. I had my eyes fixed on the ball, so I wasn't even looking at him.

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“I'm absolutely gutted. I was just beginning to fit in with the lads, and I was looking forward to the start of the season. Now it looks like I might be suspended, unless the club lodges an appeal. I've seen the video, and it's not very clear.

“It would have been better if the referee had just warned me. I had committed no other fouls in the match, and yet he just showed me the red card without even a word. He didn't even speak to me, or tell me what I was being sent off for.

“It wasn't as though I was running around the pitch like a raging bull, making aggressive challenges all over the place. A couple of the Bolton players tried to reason with the referee, especially Gary Speed, who told him to be sensible and not send me off. He was as disgusted as me with the decision to send me off,” added Platt.

Summer signing Platt, recruited from MK Dons, had bagged three goals in pre-season and was poised to partner Kevin Lisbie up front for the start of the regular season.

He had been signed as a replacement for Chris Iwelumo, who never missed a league game in his two seasons at Layer Road. Ironically, Platt has not even made his competitive U's debut, and already he is likely to miss three games!

“I reckon a yellow card and a warning from the referee would have been best, if even that,” continued Platt.

“I've been sent off a few times in my career, but never for a one-off incident like this. It was my first offence, and it was accidental. It's all very frustrating.”

Bolton manager, Sammy Lee, was disappointed that his team were handed a numerical advantage after just 26 minutes of Saturday's unsatisfactory friendly. The sending-off helped neither team in their build-up to the new season.

“The red card didn't do us any favours. We were expecting a good test, but that was ruined as soon as Colchester went down to 10 men,” said former England and Liverpool midfielder Lee.

“As managers, we always ask referees to be sensible in pre-season games. We don't want a player to be sent off and then miss the start of the season. We didn't need that today.”

U's boss Geraint Williams explained: “I attended a referees' meeting in Walsall three weeks ago where it was made clear that if a referee felt an offence had been committed, then he must act.

“There is nowhere for him to go. If the referee ignores the incident, then it's him that will end up missing three games! His every move is watched by the assessor.

“I will look back at the video, and see whether it was an accident. Clive (Platt) is not the sort of lad to do that deliberately,” added Williams.

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