Hatters boss critical of fourth official after Pelly sees red

Hatters boss Nathan Jones
Hatters boss Nathan Jones

Hatters boss Nathan Jones was critical of fourth official Mark Russell after midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu was controversially sent off against Exeter City yesterday.

The 23-year-old picked the ball up when Jonathan Smith had been penalised for a foul himself, before being elbowed in the back of the head by City’s David Wheeler during his overly aggressive attempt to take a quick free kick.

They’ve got a fourth official who reckons he hasn’t seen anything all afternoon, so I don’t know what he’s been doing. I don’t know why he came, he might as well have been shopping.

Nathan Jones

After a lengthy chat with his assistants, referee John Busby opted to book both players, with Wheeler somehow avoiding a straight red, meaning Mpanzu, who had been cautioned in the first half, was dismissed for the first time in his career.

Jones said: “Pelly picked the ball up so maybe it’s a silly second but the lad has elbowed him in the back and apparently headbutted him.

“I don’t know, I didn’t see the headbutt, but I saw the elbow in the back.

“They’ve got a fourth official who reckons he hasn’t seen anything all afternoon, so I don’t know what he’s been doing, I don’t know why he came, he might as well have been shopping.

“Seriously. I can’t criticise the ref too much because he’s given us two penalties and we’ve won the game.”

When asked for his view on the incident, striker Danny Hylton said: “I thought the lad’s thrown an elbow and a headbutt at Pelly, because Pelly was stopping them getting the ball and taking a quick free-kick.

“The message on the pitch, the linesman said that the guy has thrown an elbow and a headbutt, but he didn’t make contact with Pelly, so that’s why he got the yellow card.

“I don’t know if that makes it right, but the referee is the ref. He’s qualified and I’m not. So is the linesman and that’s the decision he’s come up with.

“I think Pelly is unlucky to get sent off. I don’t think he did much, just stopped the Exeter player taking a quick free-kick.

“Play had stopped anyway, so I don’t know if he did anything wrong.

“It was a tough game, fiery, with a quick tempo, so it’s not going to be easy for the ref. They came up with their decision and that was it.”

Meanwhile, defender Glen Rea added: “I don’t want to comment on it, it’s one for the ref.

“I’m not sure, from where I’m standing I don’t think it’s a second yellow card, but the ref made a decision and we did well with 10 men.”