Clarke left ‘speechless’ by handball call

Salisbury City boss Darrell Clarke has blasted the referee for giving Chelmsford City the advantage in their Blue Square Bet South play-off semi-final.

The Clarets won the first leg at Melbourne Stadium courtesy of a debatable penalty from Anthony Cook late on after Whites defender Ricky Wellard was penalised for handball inside the area.

However, the match official approached Clarke after the final whistle to inform him that Wellard’s handball had not been deliberate, which left the 35-year-old fuming.

“I’m speechless,” Clarke declared. “I asked the boys before the game to make sure we are still in the play-offs when we play the second leg at the Ray Mac.

“They defended like warriors on a rugby pitch, in fact it’s more of an athletics pitch where javelins and discuses are thrown. I knew what to expect when we came here.

“But the penalty decision is difficult to stomach, considering how hard everyone in the football club has worked all season.

“After the game I asked the referee if it was a deliberate handball and he said ‘no’ and told me Wellard’s arm was in an unnatural position. I said to him what are the rules of the game and he said for a penalty to be awarded it has to be deliberate.

“Ultimately the referee got bullied into it, there was a massive crowd shout and he caved. The FA need to ask questions about themselves, there were many spectators watching, relying on a referee who doesn’t know the rules of the game. We’re clearly despondent by the decision.”

The Wiltshire outfit have every chance of overturning the 1-0 deficit when they take on Glenn Pennyfather’s side at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium on Saturday, and Clarke has urged fans to get down to the ground this weekend to support their team.

“It’s a different ball game on Saturday,” he said. “It’s going to be entertaining.

“All I ask for is that everyone gets down to the Ray Mac. Bring your friends, cousins and partners, I want to hear so much positivity from the crowd and let’s see if we can turn this clash around.

“Our home form’s been good but it goes out of the window in the play-offs. We have got to be brave, defend well and be better than Tuesday.”

Posted: Thursday , May 02, 2013