Mass brawl sees 3 sent off. Website reaction

Last updated : 23 February 2005 By Michael Morris
There's usually two sides to how good or bad the officials are. Usually one side not happy while the opposition are quite satisfied. For sure tonight there was not one City fan who could say the referee did City any favours at all but with two players sent off Millwall fans won't be too enamoured by the shockingly bad referee tonight.

First up came a penalty to Millwall, I've seen the replay once and it was a case of ball to James Collins' hand but there was definate contact, James' hands were raised so I'll concede that one.

A minute later and City it appeared were level. Inamoto heading in from close range but he was denied by the linesman's flag.

Dichio, the Millwall scorer, was lucky to stay on the pitch when he cynically scythed down Neil Alexander. The City keeper had posession and sidestepped the approaching striker to clear the ball but was caught and I thought a straight red was coming. It was yellow.

City were dominating a stubborn Millwall who had a defensive line that looked like the pop band Hanson (look them up kids or ask your parents). Despite their Californian locks (and looks) they managed to keep City at bay and when they were beaten lady luck came to their rescue. I thought No. 12 Darren ward was the pick of their defence.

At half time the game did not seem lost but you felt that we would struggle against the officials. So many poor decisions, a bizzare moment when play had resumed after a throw in and a stray ball came from the stands onto the pitch. It happened twice, after City threw the ball in the ref stopped play and ordered a drop ball but when it happened after Millwall threw the ball in he ordered them to re-take the throw. Little things maybe but that highlighted the inconsistency. I wonder sometimes what use linesmen are. They miss so much by either being behind the play or by wearing Arsene Wenger glasses "I did not see it" (say in a French accent).

City pressed and pressed in the second half, Inamoto cleverly chipped goalwards but his effort was saved just under the bar, Kavanagh fired in a rocket that was saved by the keeper who knew very little about it. McAnuff looked to have scored only to see his effort headed off the line. Weston screamed one just past the angle and late on James Collins was inches away from poking the ball home.

The board went up to signal 4 mins of injury time. Then it all kicked off big time. Chris Barker fouled Alan Dunne. As it was in injury time the Millwall player decided to feign death and stay prone on the floor. Barker hauled him to his feet only to get a smack in the face for his trouble. Dunne received a straight red for violent conduct.

Then it erupted, all the players on the pitch started to posture up to each other, Collins and Livermore were at the centre of it, pushing and shoving, arms flying, 20 or more players involved. Collins did enough to warrant a second yellow card so he was off but Livermore lashed out at him and earned a straight red. In the meantime on the touchline Dennis Wise soaked the 4th official by spraying him with a water bottle, an action that saw him sent to the stands.

It then appeared to flare up in the tunnel, stewards and police ran from all parts of the ground and bustled towards the changing rooms. I don't know what went on out of sight but I bet it wasn't pretty.

City attacked again as the clock ticked down and could have won a penalty. Thorne appeared to be bundled over in the box but the ref was having none of it. Two other attacks saw City get the ball in the box but the final touch was lacking.

Despite the fans cheering the departing Millwall players as they got their red cards the facts remain that we lost the match. Fortunately Gillingham also lost so we keep a 6 point gap over the relegation zone but Plymouth beat Sheff Utd to move above us and maybe more dauntingly Sunderland crushed Rotherham at the Stadium of Light to record a 4th straight home win.

On the day we let Robert Page complete his move to Coventry we have one of our three remaining centre halves sent off. Madness.