Doherty’s fury at foul call
CHRIS WISE Gary Doherty reckons Norwich City were robbed of a shock victory at Leeds by some “canny play” from his opposite number.
Gary Doherty reckons Norwich City were robbed of a shock victory at Leeds by some “canny play” from his opposite number.
The Canaries were leading 2-1 at Elland Road with 89 minutes on the clock, when Doherty was adjudged to have fouled fellow centre-half Paul Butler on the edge of the penalty area.
That gave the hosts a free-kick in a near perfect position for USA international Eddie Lewis to curl the ball over the Norwich wall into the top corner to earn his side a point they barely deserved.
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After fighting back from an early deficit to score two second-half goals through Andy Hughes and Paul McVeigh it was a bitter pill for City to swallow - and their sense of injustice was heightened by referee Chris Foy's decision to punish Doherty's aerial challenge in the first place.
The Republic of Ireland international certainly believed he had been hard done by after the match, even though he still had plenty of positives to reflect on after a heartening fight back against one of the best teams in the Coca-Cola Championship.
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“I haven't seen the tape yet but it didn't feel like a foul - and a few of the lads have said the same thing,” he said. “It was just really disappointing. They pushed four players up in the closing stages so I knew I had to go for the header and try and win it or we would be in trouble.
“Butler just stood there, he didn't really jump, and I just tried to compete and knock it away and the ref has penalised me. His decision ended up turning a win into a draw and it's killed us, it really has.
“It probably looked like a foul, but players can be quite canny in those sort of situations. He has just left me to jump over the top of him and then looked to the referee. Some of those you get, some you don't and unfortunately Leeds got the decision on this occasion. It was the first one I had given away up to then - but unfortunately it was the important one.”
Colleague Simon Charlton had a close-up view of the incident, and was also of the opinion that the referee had got it wrong.
“I think Doc has got a bit of a point,” he said. “I think the ref got conned a few times with Leeds players just standing still and letting the defenders knock into them. Adam Drury got done in similar fashion earlier in the game when one of their guys - I think it was David Healy - just stopped dead. Adam kept his eyes on the ball and has clattered into him because he wasn't looking where he was.”
What made the incident all the more frustrating for Doherty was that he had given away a free-kick in a similar fashion against Stoke the previous week which also ended up in the back of net. It was little surprise then that he lost his cool when Mr Foy chose to penalise him again deep into injury-time.
The free-kick came to nothing, but the City defender wasn't to know that at the time and was quick to voice his frustration, with his angry words earning him a yellow card.
“With what happened last week I lost it a bit at the end,” he said. “I felt aggrieved to say the least. I made a comment and got booked, which was disappointing.”
Manager Nigel Worthington was keeping his feelings to himself on the free-kick award, but clearly feels his side have got some work to do on defending high balls on the edge of the box.
“It's one of those decisions,” he said. “Sometimes the referees give them, sometimes they don't. On this occasion he has given the free-kick and they have scored from it. That's something we have got to learn from because we have conceded a few from set plays in recent games. We have got to tidy up on that one.”
With the late drama still fresh in his mind Doherty didn't have a smile on his face as he left the pitch - but having had time to reflect on the game he was more than happy with City's overall display.
“I thought it was a good performance from the lads,” he said. “We defended well all afternoon and we hit them a lot on the counter-attack in the second half.
“Early on it was just a case of being strong and making sure we didn't crumble. But as the game wore on we pushed forward and created a lot of chances.
“Overall I think we have got to be pleased. It keeps our little run going - we have lost just one in six now and it's important we maintain that sort of form for the rest of the season.
“To be honest I feel a little bit sorry for the fans because they probably don't know which team is going to turn up each week. That must be very frustrating.
“We beat Sheffield United away, we nearly win at Leeds - and yet we perform as badly as we did at Crystal Palace.
“There have been other very disappointing results but hopefully we can put the inconsistency behind us now and play like this for the rest of the season.
“Sheffield United have just lost again so they are going to be under a little bit of pressure when they come to Carrow Road. They need to start picking up wins quickly because Leeds and Watford are breathing down their necks now.
“As for us, well until it is mathematically impossible we'll keep plugging away. Obviously it would really have helped us if we had taken three points today but we'll crack on from here, don't worry about that.”