Ward: Referee spoiled a good spectacle

COLCHESTER United manager John Ward says referee Phil Gibbs unnecessarily spoiled this afternoon’s hotly-anticipated game against Southampton by showing striker David Mooney the red card after 32 minutes.

The U’s dominated the opening half hour before falling behind against the run of play when a Rickie Lambert free-kick deflected off the wall and fell fortunately into the path of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to convert.

Less than two minutes later U’s striker Mooney was dismissed for raising his arms to defender Danny Butterfield to leave Colchester with an uphill task.

Former Colchester midfielder Dean Hammond doubled the lead five minutes after the restart with a crisp volley from the edge of the box after Matt Heath only partially cleared a corner.

The U’s produced a spirited second half performance though to restrict the visitors to counter-attacking chances and create goal-scoring opportunities of their own.

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“It was a good game eleven v eleven and I thought we’d given as good as we got,” said Ward, looking back on the start of the match.

“They got the break off the wall from the free-kick, that happens, but the sending off changes the whole complexity of the afternoon for everybody.

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“He (Mooney) hasn’t pushed him (Butterfield) in the chest, he’s pushed him by the shoulders and the back actually. He did push him, but if those are sending offs then many games would get abandoned because teams wouldn’t have enough people to play each other.

“We saw one on Tuesday where a Bristol Roevrs players pushed one of my players twice in the front of the chest towards his face and he only gets a yellow card.

“Mr Gibbs will say he’s absolutely right by the letter of the law, but I think a yellow card, a warning and a ‘let’s get on with the game’ would have been fine. He should have been thinking ‘it’s been a good game so far, why should I jump in and cause a problem for it’.

“It means that everyone apart from those in red and white have gone home disappointed that they didn’t get to see a more even contest.

“We pushed them as far as we could with 10 men, I’d have just liked to have seen us push them further with eleven men but the referee didn’t allow that to happen.”

Ward, whose team were watched by a season highest crowd of 6,523, continued: “At 2-0 we could have gone under but to be fair the boys haven’t.

“They’ve shown massive amounts of spirit and endeavour, kept going and at least our supporters can say they’ve had their moneys worth of effort from the team.

“Our supporters have given our team a rousing reception at the end but I don’t like being plucky losers, I’d rather be a plucky winner.”

Colchester fall back to seven points off the play-off places with 12 games to play, but Ward says his side will keep believing they can finish in the top six.

“Of course it is possible,” she said. “Until somebody says we can’t do it we’ll keep going, we showed that attitude today by playing right until the final whistle.”

- Will Ward appeal Mooney’s red card and will he look for a striker in the loan market? See Monday’s EADT.

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