HUDDERSFIELD manager Simon Grayson described referee Mick Russell’s blunder in a full-blooded goalless Yorkshire derby with Sheffield Wednesday as “staggering”.
He called on the game’s authorities to introduce post-match press conferences for officials.
See The Star on Monday for an in depth match report and reaction.
Russell made a glaring error midway through the first half when he failed to send off Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Jeremy Helan for a second yellow-card offence.
Helan, on loan from Manchester City, was emerging as the game’s outstanding player when he was booked by Russell for a 26th-minute foul on Huddersfield winger Adam Hammill.
But the Hertfordshire official did not realise he had already booked the Frenchman for diving in the penalty area in the ninth minute and despite animated reminders from Huddersfield players and the home bench, Russell restarted play with Helan still on the pitch amid chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’.
“As we came off the pitch he came to me to apologise for the error he made,” said Grayson.
“I think he’s probably written the wrong number down in his book, which is staggering and I also think he should have been helped by his officials, who should be overruling because they all know, when a referee makes a mistake like that, who he’s booking.
“The lineman should be helping out. He’s not done it deliberately, but you can’t make major mistakes like that.
“He’s put (Michail) Antonio’s number in his book, but he was nowhere near the incident. I don’t mind referee’s making big mistakes in terms of tackles and sendings off, but something quite simple like that shouldn’t be happening in Championship football.
“I’m not going to say Wednesday going down to 10 men would have guaranteed us winning the game, but it would have certainly helped us and what if the lad had gone on to score or created the winning goal?
“It would have been a massive talking point, which it is already.”
When it was suggested Huddersfield might have grounds to replay the match Grayson added: “I’m not sure about that. No-one has said anything like that. I’d be very surprised.
“I just think referees in general should be accountable for any decisions and have a press conference after the game, whether good decisions or bad decisions.
“It shouldn’t be up to myself or Dave Jones to explain, they should be out and you should be able to ask questions as to why he made certain decisions.
“I’ve not seen Dave, but I’m sure if it was the other way round he wouldn’t have been so calm and as placid on the touchline as he was.”
Huddersfield, now without a win in nine league matches, almost snatched all three points in the final minute when substitute James Vaughan flashed a volley inches wide.
But Wednesday substitute Mamady Sidibe forced Huddersfield goalkeeper Alex Smithies into a superb save with a header moments earlier and a draw was a fair reflection of a full-blooded encounter between two Yorkshire rivals.
Grayson added: “It’s a shame, we shouldn’t be talking about the referee after a Yorkshire derby, with a great atmosphere and two teams trying to win a football match.”
Wednesday boss Dave Jones was adamant that Helan should not have been booked for diving in the ninth minute and that his side should instead have been awarded a penalty.
Jones said: “I don’t know about a first booking, it was a penalty. That’s the controversy.
“Helan has been clipped and he’s not the type of lad to do that (dive). I think we should have won the game, that’s what I’m perplexed about.
“We should have had a penalty and we had the chance towards the end with Sidibe’s header.”
Huddersfield defender Anthony Gerrard, the man of the match, said he was not aware of the referee’s mistake at the time.
Gerrard told Press Association Sport: “I didn’t really notice to be honest. I thought he had booked two different players.
“I thought the first booking for the dive in the box was (Michail) Antonio and the second one was Helan, so I didn’t concern myself with it.
“If he did make a mistake, so be it, it’s just one of those things that can happen in football.”