Norwich City getting a raw deal?

Two ex-Premier League referees have backed Norwich City supporters' grievances over their side's treatment from officials since returning to English football's top-flight.

Sunday's 1-0 home defeat to West Bromwich Albion was the latest game affected by officialdom.

Referee Mark Halsey awarded a spot kick when Albion right-back Steven Reid took a tumble – the fourth penalty Norwich have conceded in as many Premier League games – yet failed to see Gabriel Tamas' elbow on James Vaughan at the opposite end in injury time.

The clash from Tamas left an angry Vaughan needing plastic surgery to repair his split lip, while the Football Association confirmed yesterday the Baggies centre-back had been charged with violent conduct and may face a three-match ban if he accepts the charge.

Albion are keeping quiet over their intentions regarding any appeal, but not only will the news do Norwich few favours retrospectively – it may also mean West Brom will head to face fellow early strugglers Swansea, Everton and Fulham without one of their first choice defenders.

It will be little consolation now to Canaries fans, but retired Fifa-listed referee Dermot Gallagher felt City were harshly treated at the weekend.

'It should have been a red card (for Tamas), without any doubt at all,' said Gallagher.

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'The referee was a bit unlucky, he obviously didn't see it, but you would have thought with four officials out there someone would have. It's very straight forward, it should have been a penalty and a red card.'

Gallagher added: 'Those incidents should not go unpunished. As you see, he actually hits him on the side of the face, away from the referee.

'What I will say is, in Mark's defence, because he has not guessed and done anything stupid, rushed in and given a yellow card or anything, now the FA are within their rights to go and charge the player.

'And I'm confident they will because no one wants to see that kind of incident at all.'

When quizzed about the challenge from Steve Morison that saw Reid fall to the ground for Albion's 75th minute spot kick – which was well saved by goalkeeper Declan Rudd – Gallagher laughed.

'I didn't think it was a penalty to be honest – I thought it was very, very soft,' said the former top-flight referee.

'People will go 'well, he is touched and there was contact made', but the reason I didn't think it was a penalty was because it was out of context with what had gone on before.

'We saw Jonas Olsson at the other end, who was pushing and shoving like you see in many penalty areas. But for me, that one (on Steven Reid) was just as soft as it comes. Reid has almost backed into him and cannoned off him; it's a coming together for me.'

Sunday's penalty saw City equal Wimbledon's record of four consecutive spot kicks conceded in their opening four fixtures – and fellow former referee Graham Poll admitted Norwich's arrival in the Premier League has marked them out for some poor decisions.

'Let me guarantee you this – none of the penalties given to Wigan, Stoke or West Brom would have been awarded against Manchester United, and yet they were against Norwich City,' he said in his national newspaper column.

'I don't believe any referee consciously goes out to give soft penalties against small teams, but I know they only give stone wall penalties against the biggest ones…they know the fallout, from the managers and the media, if they give a soft penalty against one of the big teams and the sub-conscious mind kicks in to afford the referee a level of protection, quite naturally.

'Surely, this must be applied to all penalty awards, to only give them if 100pc sure.'