Sheffield United boss’ fury at Holt after penalty revives Norwich City
Grant Holt stood accused of cheating last night as a game that had six goals, two penalties and a red card once again descended into a debate over the match official.
Sheffield United caretaker manager John Carver insisted that Holt conned Phil Crossley into awarding City a penalty when he was fouled by Nick Montgomery and that the referee got it wrong when he penalised Kyle Bartley for handball. Wes Hoolahan converted both and later added a third as City came from 2-1 down to claim all three points.
Carver produced a litany of incidents which, he claimed, Crossley got wrong, but it was the penalties that infuriated him.
He said: '(For) the first one Holt has actually said to Montgomery, 'I had to go over, I have conned the referee' – that's great sportsmanship isn't it?
'The second one happened so quickly. It is not as if Kyle Bartley has actually taken his hand to the ball, his hand is actually down by his side and the ball hits his arm.'
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Carver claimed there were similar incidents at the other end, as well as a foul by Michael Nelson on Ched Evans, which all went unpunished – and claimed the free-kick which led to City's first goal should never have been given.
'I am livid,' said Carver. 'I am talking about six big decisions in a game, key decisions which can affect people's lives and affect the game. Just say I really wanted this job as manager and I am fighting for my life and I have been affected by what has happened out there today – it makes the chairman and the owner think more: one win and two defeats, can we give him the job?'
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Canaries boss Paul Lambert sympathised with Carver.
'The first one I thought if it was given against me I would be a bit annoyed,' he said. 'But the second one the lads say he handballed it.'
It was a tough afternoon for City, who went into the game missing the suspended Leon Barnett, his central defensive partner Elliott Ward, who has a calf problem, and midfielder Henri Lansbury, absent with a hamstring injury.
Lambert started with three at the back – Russell Martin doing the central duties with Michael Nelson to his right and Jens Berthel Askou to his left, but by the half-hour mark and with the score 1-1, he reverted to 4-4-2.
'We just never got into the game,' he explained. 'We did have a lot of the ball, but sometimes it is detrimental to you at times and we thought we had to go back to the back four.
'I thought we stopped and started, but we have set a really high standard of late. I have a lot of players out at the minute and you have to give the lads credit for coming in. That was more of a grind for us, that was a tough, tough game.'