Referee favoured Norwich, claims Burley

CHRIS LAKEY Angry Saints boss George Burley launched a damning attack on match referee Clive Oliver after seeing his side go down at Carrow Road on Saturday.


Angry Saints boss George Burley launched a damning attack on match referee Clive Oliver after seeing his side go down at Carrow Road on Saturday.

Burley claimed Oliver had favoured the Canaries from the first whistle and got his decisions wrong on two major incidents in the game.

“I thought from the start he was looking to give Norwich something,” claimed Burley. “I said that at half-time and I was proven right. I thought he had a very poor game.”

“I think it was just his all-round performance. It started where we were going to take a free kick and all of a sudden he's given it to Norwich - are you sure? His performance was certainly an advantage to the home team.”

The former Ipswich manager, who has seen his side lose their opening two Championship games plus their first round Carling Cup tie, claimed a second-half shot by Andrew Surman which City keeper David Marshall fumbled had actually crossed the line.

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“I saw it on the monitor and it certainly seemed over the line,” said Burley. “The players thought it was over the line, but maybe that just summed up the decisions of the referee.

“The keeper is right on his line and it went through his legs and it looked over to me.”

Burley also claimed the official got it wrong when he ruled that Saints keeper Kelvin Davis had picked up a back pass from defender Chris Makin - Burley claimed it was a ricochet.

“It happened quickly - it hit him and went back to the keeper,” he said. “The back pass upset Chris - and the referee pushed the wall back about 12 yards, virtually right into the goal.”

The incidents proved to be major turning points: Burley claimed that, at 1-0 up, had Surman's shot been ruled legitimate it would have put the game out of City's reach. But within minutes Jamie Cureton had equalised from the indirect free-kick.

“It was a great finish, but it shouldn't have happened, it shouldn't have been a free-kick,” Burley added. “He is a good finisher but overall I can't believe we lost the game. If we keep playing in that manner the wins will come.

“We scored one goal and it could have been three or four - one we thought was over the line and didn't get, and then a ref's decision with the back pass that changed the game. We are disappointed with that, but first half it was like men against boys at times. Then the decision, they get the goal, it lifts them and we're battling away to try and get the right result. They got another quick goal and we start chasing the game at 2-1 down. We should have been more than one up with the opportunities we had - if we get another goal it's finished or if the referee and linesman make the right decision it's 2-0 and I think we win the match.”

Burley praised midfielder Youssef Safri, whose return to Carow Road just over a fortnight after his acrimonious departure was greeted with a chorus of boos from large sections of the crowd every time he touched the ball.

“I thought he did very well,” said Burley. “He dictated the game, got the ball down and passed it. I am very pleased with his performance.”

Peter Grant believes Burley was clutching at straws after blaming the referee for the defeat at Carrow Road.

“I'm very surprised if he has said that because I thought the ref had done okay,” said Grant. “I thought Chris Brown got smashed three times with an elbow from Wayne Thomas, as plain as the nose on your face. I told the fourth official and the fourth official said he's seen it, but never said anything to the referee

“I can't believe George has said that because I think maybe that is clutching at straws. Sometimes we do that after decisions go against us. These decisions go for you and against you but he can have no qualms about the pass back that's for sure.

“It's as plain as everybody could see. He has played it back, the boy has angled his body, set it back for his goalkeeper first time. The goalkeeper has dived on it, it's a free kick.”

As for the Surman shot which Burley claimed had gone over the line, Grant said simply: “I just looked at the result and it said 2-1 so obviously it didn't count, that is the bottom line.

“I am closer to it than George and I can genuinely say with my hand on heart that I couldn't see it. When it's gone behind David I am thinking it's going to go into the net, to be perfectly honest with you. Obviously your first reaction is to look at the linesman, see where the referee is and he's not given the goal. Obviously I am delighted with that.

“He's got X-ray eyes if he's maybe seen it on the video footage.”

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