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Coleman disappointed with Ref Bennett

last updated Sunday 12th November 2006, 9:23 AM
Chris Coleman
Chris Coleman

Fulham manager Chris Coleman shook hands with referee Steve Bennett after his contentious decision gave Portsmouth a point from a 1-1 draw at Fratton Park, but insisted the official got it wrong.

Andy Cole came off the bench to scramble home Pompey's 74th-minute equaliser after Zat Knight had put Fulham ahead 18 minutes earlier, but the visitors claimed heroic goalkeeper Antti Niemi had the ball in his grasp before Cole struck.

Coleman said: "Referees have had a lot of stick lately and I didn't talk to him afterwards. I just shook his hand but I was disappointed he gave the goal.

"All we ask is a little bit of consistency but we were denied a penalty earlier this season against Chelsea when our player, Michael Brown, went for the ball in the same sort of challenge against Petr Cech and was pulled down. Chelsea got a free kick instead.

"I've said before we need some technology to help decide these big decisions because they mean so much.


"When we went 1-0 up today, Portsmouth's fans got louder and all credit to them for that.

"We had to defend a lot of corners and a lot of pressure and I felt we went too deep too early, but the biggest disappointment was with the decision to give the goal."

Chris Coleman hailed goalkeeper Antti Niemi and his reformed centre-back Zat Knight as the heroes of a backs-to-the-wall fight at Portsmouth.

Coleman said: "Antti's shot-stopping was superb. I think his form gets better the older he gets. He pulled off two or three fantastic saves against Portsmouth and I didn't think he was going to be beaten.

"I thought any goal they scored would be a controversial one and unfortunately it was. But Antti's consistency is fantastic."

Coleman said: "Zat has matured a bit from last season. He took his foot off the gas once he got into the England squad last season and tended to relax a bit.

"But he's found out you can't afford to do that and since pre-season he's been magnificent, his concentration in training has been tip-top."

"We're doing well but it is fine with me that other people are not really talking about us," Coleman said. "We have changed everything about the way we approach away matches. The time we arrive in the dressing room, the times when we eat, the time when I give my team talk. It is all different to last season and it is paying off."

Cole, 35, scrambled home his second goal for Portsmouth - the 280th club strike of his career - against the team with whom he had two spells earlier in his career.

Coleman added: "I didn't want Coley to come on because I know what he can do from his Fulham days - especially in the last 20 minutes.

"He thinks so quickly and that was the last possible place we wanted him to get the ball when he scored."

Pompey manager Harry Redknapp said: "We battered them but it was just one of those days when things don't go for you.

"Their keeper Antti Niemi, who I tried to get for Portsmouth when he left Southampton, was superb and we hit the post or bar three times.

"Kanu missed a good chance early on and I felt when we went behind to a set-piece it would be hard to come back.

"But I think we deserved the goal and it was the right decision.

"Antti told me he didn't have both hands on the ball but there was also a challenge by Kanu, I'm told.

"There were so many bodies in there going for the ball. It would not have surprised me if the referee gave a scrum-down in the end."

Fulham maintained their unbeaten run away from home since the opening-day 5-1 thrashing at Manchester United - where Pompey lost 3-0 last week.

Redknapp said: "We had a lot of injury problems going in to today but we still played well. It would have been a travesty to finish with nothing.

"We needed three points really, but we got one and that's okay.

"We were solid at the back, but Fulham play a 4-5-1 or whatever you want to call it, and it is hard to break down.

"Andy Cole got another goal but he was doubtful with a groin strain right up to today and we needed late tests on Gary O'Neil and Noe Pamarot, who have hardly trained this week."

O'Neil was ominously stretchered off with his legs strapped together just before the end, but Redknapp revealed: "It is just a dead leg. He should be all right in a few days."






Source Bill Pierce at PA Sport
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