Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill was left puzzled by referee Jerem Simpson’s decision to book Jacob Brown for simulation – and reckoned it could easily have been a penalty in today’s 0-0 draw at Millwall.
The two Championship clubs ground out a gritty draw in SE16.
And the official yellow carded substitute Brown when he went down in the box.
O’Neill said: “You don’t get an easy game here, whether the fans are in or out.
“Both teams, at times, could’ve been braver to play. I think Gary would agree with that, based on what we were hearing in the technical area. We were a little bit frustrated at times.
“Overall we were the better team and had more opportunity. We had a lot of corners, particularly in the first half – we just didn’t maximise some of the opportunities we had.
“At the end we get a really bizarre decision that goes against us that could’ve been the difference.
“Yeah [I’ve seen it back]. The referee has a decision to make whether he gives a penalty – there is clear contact. [Shaun] Hutchinson comes straight into the back of Jacob, he gets to the ball first. To me that constitutes a penalty – what it certainly doesn’t constitute is a dive and to book the player.
“We felt it was going to be a game decided off something like that or a set piece.
“I don’t think we ever looked like losing a goal, we looked strong defensively and we’re still trying to get up to speed.”
Former Lion Lee Gregory did not feature against his former club.
And O’Neill appeared to confirm that the forward is one of a number of players surplus to requirements at City.
Asked if it meant he had strength in depth or too many players, the Irishman replied: “It means I’ve got too many players, simple as that. We’ve known that for quite some time.
“We had seven players return to the club who have been out on loan. We still have one here, who wasn’t able to play today in Ryan Woods. We’re trying to build a team here and when you build a team there is always casualties – and that’s unfortunately where we are at this moment in time.
“The 18 players we picked today are the players who have done the most in pre-season and deserve to be in the squad at this moment in time.”
PHOTOS: KEITH GILLARD
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