Royle blames ref and strikers

IMPOTENT in front of goal and a whole load of mystifying decisions – that was how Joe Royle summed up Ipswich's shock Carling Cup exit to Notts County last night.

IMPOTENT in front of goal and a whole load of mystifying decisions – that was how Joe Royle summed up Ipswich's shock Carling Cup exit to Notts County last night.

An opener from Simon Baldry and a controversial penalty, won and converted by Mark Stallard gave struggling Second Division Magpies their victory.

Spaniard Pablo Counago had equalised once for Town from the penalty spot after he was tripped but even though Alan Mahon hit a post (again) the Blues misfired in front of goal once more.

Although Royle used five teenagers he refused to use inexperience as a reason for the defeat.

"It will do them all good, it is an experience for them and they have all had a go. But I'm not using youngsters as an excuse, the salient points were mystifying decisions and our impotence in front of goal."

It was the first time in nine years that County have reached the third round. The last time it was Spurs who fell at Meadow Lane in the second round, and that defeat cost Ossie Ardiles his job.

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There is no way Royle will be under threat at this stage although the boos which rang out from the travelling Town support will not have helped his mood after two league wins.

The Blues boss was furious with referee Paul Taylor, who awarded Mark Stallard a penalty when he ran into Fabian Wilnis with virtually every observer believing it was obstruction, and therefore an indirect free-kick, at best.

Royle said: "I'm disappointed to lose the game but I was mystified by a number of decisions. It was probably the softest penalty I have seen given in more than 30 years in the game. I was also astounded by two other decisions not given when Georges Santos was pushed in the area. And then the referee did not want to give our penalty, it was the linesman who flagged. So I was upset by his performance which for me was unacceptable."

But Royle also blasted his strikers who failed to convert Town's second-half domination into a second equaliser.

He said: "For all the possession we had we have not threatened the goal. We had four forwards on the pitch at one time and none of them has had a worthwhile attempt on goal.

"Notts County have defended magnificently and gone deeper and deeper but we did not have the guile to get behind them.

"Losing Alan Mahon to a groin injury hurt us and towards the end young Sam Morrow has missed a chance which he won't miss many more like.

"But on the whole their keeper has been redundant."

Town's injury woes continue, with Alan Mahon forced off with a groin injury, much to County's relief as he was causing them a lot of problems.

Royle will check on the extent of that and those injuries to Darren Bent and Drissa Diallo before dipping into the loan market again.

Mark Stallard admitted the decisions went County's way and added: "It was the referee's interpretation. On another day it might have been just obstruction and an indirect free-kick but it was definitely a foul. Either way we will take it. It was a brilliant win for us and on the whole we deserved to win.

"It is a fantastic win and means a lot financially to a club like us."

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