Sheffield United: Clough hails ‘brave’ referee

Sheffield United and Brentford players surround referee Eddie Ilderton at Bramall Lane
Sheffield United and Brentford players surround referee Eddie Ilderton at Bramall Lane
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Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, praised referee Eddie Ilderton following his decision to overturn Kieron Freeman’s red card during last night’s 0-0 draw with Brentford.

Ilderton dismissed the on-loan defender and awarded a penalty to the visitors after ruling Marcello Trotta had been fouled inside the box during the first-half of a pulsating contest.

However, after consulting his assistant, the match official reprieved Freeman before performing a U-turn over the spot-kick.

Although his counterpart Mark Warburton described Ilderton’s actions as “bizarre,” Clough said: “I think the referee deserves credit for what he did out there. It took a lot of bravery and courage to do that.

“We wish he’d got it right a little bit sooner. But the most important thing is that he got it right in the end so you can’t criticise him for that at all.

“I think everyone in the ground could see it wasn’t a foul or a penalty,” Clough, whose side are 11th in the League One table, added. “You could even tell from the reaction of their players that they knew something was up.

“He (Ilderton) didn’t let it affect his performance in the second-half. What he did took some guts and I told Mark at half-time that I’d want the same thing to happen if it was roles reversed and one of their lads.”

United return to action against Leyton Orient on Saturday and, reflecting on their performance against the division’s second-placed side, Clough said: “We’ve gone toe-to-toe with one of the best in the division. They had chances but we, possibly, created the better ones. That’s a good marker for us.”