Royle calls for clampdown on divers

BLUES boss Joe Royle last night called on referees to clamp down on divers after Fabian Wilnis was on the wrong end of a red card decision at Cardiff City last night.

By Derek Davis

BLUES boss Joe Royle last night called on referees to clamp down on divers after Fabian Wilnis was on the wrong end of a red card decision at Cardiff City last night.

Although man-of-the-match Lewis Price saved the resulting penalty, Royle was furious that Cameron Jerome had been given the award, which Michael Ricketts scorned.

The Blues lost 2-1 and were struck by another injury blow as defender Jay McEveley was ruled out for six weeks with knee ligament damage.

Royle said: “Fabian is adamant there was barely any contact and the ball was in Lewis' hands anyway.

“There must have been a sniper in the ground the way he went down.

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“Referees have got to get to know these players who dive and not give them anything.

“I don't just mean these two (Jerome and Ricketts), I have been steadfastly against diving in the game.

“There was no need to send Fabian off either as the rule, as I understand it, is to prevent a goalscoring opportunity, and there was not a clear chance there.”

Dutchman Wilnis will insist on appealing and the club will lodge a protest today, but that didn't help last night when Jimmy Juan magnificently equalised Ricketts' first-half finish only for Jason Koumas to snatch a late winner for City.

Royle said: “The referee at Millwall admitted he got it wrong but it was too late.”

To make matters worse Town will lose McEveley for up to six weeks with knee ligament damage when he landed badly and twisted his knee moments before the penalty incident.

Royle praised the midfield in general, Jimmy Juan and Gavin Williams in particular, with Nicky Forster also receiving praise, along with Price.

He said: “Lewis made some decent saves but we were only under the cosh because we were stretched. I was actually delighted with the performance but it was two lapses in defence that have cost us.

“And that one big decision by the referee cost us.”

“We feel very hard done by. It was an outstanding performance, particularly in the first half when we went down to 10 men, and we dominated.

“Being down to 10 men for so long was bound to tell in the end,” he admitted.

Royle handed 17-year-old Billy Clarke his debut but brought him off 20 minutes later in a bid to kill the game off at 1-1.

Clarke, who will be in FA Youth Cup action at Leeds United tomorrow, was delighted to have played his part.

He said: “It was short and sweet but I totally loved making my debut, hopefully it will be the first of many games.

“The goal which Jimmy scored with a great free-kick came when their lad tripped me from behind so I played a small part.

“It was disappointing to come off but the manager said it was tactical and I understand.

“It was just brilliant to be involved. The whole thing, travelling up, getting stick off the lads who were fabulous towards me and helped me relax.”

Blues boss Royle last night laughed off suggestion that he would take over at Sheffield United if Neil Warnock moves to Premiership Portsmouth this week. Royle said: “I don't know anything about it.”

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