Croft: I'm not guilty

David Cuffley Winger Lee Croft entered a “not guilty” plea on the charge of handball after Norwich City were beaten by a controversial stoppage-time goal.

David Cuffley

Winger Lee Croft entered a “not guilty” plea on the charge of handball after Norwich City were beaten by a controversial stoppage-time goal.

Bristol City substitute Steve Brooker sent his side to the top of the Coca-Cola Championship with a 2-1 win when he headed the decisive goal nearly three minutes into time added on at Ashton Gate, following a free-kick awarded by referee Andy D'Urso against Croft for handling.

But the Canaries were convinced it was home defender Jamie McCombe whose hand made contact with the ball - and Croft confirmed it was certainly not his.


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“Their goal came from me bringing the ball down, their player handling it and them getting a free-kick for my 'handball' which wasn't the case,” said Croft. “It's disappointment all round and we're all really frustrated.

“I brought the ball down, controlled it and it his hand. The referee's seen a hand come out and he thought it was mine. It wasn't, and from that free-kick they've gone down the other end and scored, so the officials have got it wrong.

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“We're disappointed at the decision that went against us. The referee didn't score the goal for them but he's had a big part in it, giving them the free-kick when it should have gone our way while we were on the attack. And then they're down the other end and heading the ball in. These things add up.”

The 22-year-old Croft was a half-time substitute for midfielder Darel Russell as the Canaries went on all-out attack in a bid to overturn a 1-0 deficit. Darren Huckerby's fourth goal of the season cancelled out Dele Adebola's first-half opener before Brooker's late decider.

“The lads did well in the first half and I came on in the second and we've gone with two out-and-out wingers. We put a few lads on up front and I thought we attacked really well and created numerous chances and it was a joy to be involved in. We're just bitterly disappointed that we've not got a result again.

“I think on the chances we created, we should have won.”

The defeat left Glenn Roeder's team still in need of at least one more win to feel confident of retaining their Championship status, but Croft is sure they will steer clear of trouble.

“The good thing for us is that Bristol City are top of the table tonight and we've come here and we've played them off the park, so you can't do much more than that,” he said.

“We know that we won 5-1 last week and have come here and put a performance on like that today and if we continue playing in that form from now to the end of the season we'll be fine. If we carry on playing like that, we'll win more games than we lose.”

Croft had sympathy for Dutch loan striker Maceo Rigters, who hobbled off with hamstring trouble just 15 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute for Dion Dublin.

“He would have had an impact, I'm sure. He's a good player and I hope he'll be all right and he'll be available for more games,” he said.

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