Westley says Akins red card incident was ‘bizarre’

Stevenage manager Graham Westley during the defeat to Walsall. Photo: Kevin Coleman 2013

Stevenage manager Graham Westley during the defeat to Walsall. Photo: Kevin Coleman 2013 - Credit: Kevin Coleman

Boro boss claims officials ‘got the needle’ with him just before sending off

Graham Westley has slammed Saturday’s match officials for what he says was a ‘bizarre’ red card for his player Lucas Akins.

The Stevenage frontman was sent off with 10 minutes to go in his side’s 2-1 defeat at Walsall for hitting out at Paul Downing after both players had clashed when going for the ball.

Although it seemed like a red card offence, the referee and linesman both missed the incident and when there was a break in play a few seconds later the fourth official called referee Andrew Madley over and Akins was subsequently sent off.

“It’s the first fourth official I’ve ever seen get involved. From what we understand it was Lucas being fouled and he was trying to break free from the foul, and as he’s trying to break free he’s sent off by the fourth official.

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“Nobody else seemed to see the incident, those who did see it say he was wrestling himself free and that was that.

“It wasn’t as though there was a hand to a face, it was an arm to a body as he was trying to break free from his shirt being held.

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“So a most bizarre situation, and when the side is suffering physical difficulties the last thing you really want is to be reduced to 10 men in a bizarre way.

“Just moments earlier because [the fourth official] was busy engaged I threw a ball on to the pitch. I honestly believe – I hate to say it – but I believe I was being answered back.

“Seriously, on a human level I think he got the needle because I was throwing the ball on the pitch and the next minute I’ve got a player being sent off and no-one else has seen the incident. It was most bizarre.

“I’m not making any accusations, I’m just saying on a human level that’s how I felt.”

Westley said after the match that there had been food poisoning in the camp, meaning Simon Heslop was missing while Michael Doughty was taken off with a minute to go until half-time.

“It started badly with Heslop going down over night, Doughty coming off at the end of the first-half and several of the lads very unwell in terms of wearing the shirts,” Westley said.

“When food poisoning hits your camps it’s difficult. As much as you might want to look at the technical details, the tactical details sometimes if physically the side is not on it through a bout of food poisoning it can be very difficult.

“I don’t want to take anything away from the opposition as they worked hard for their points, but we were way short in the first half and I thought it was understandable with level of sickness that we had in the camp.”

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