Shea reveals how he avoided being sent off

Hatters keeper James Shea is shown the red card against Barnet - but it was quickly changed to a yellow
Hatters keeper James Shea is shown the red card against Barnet - but it was quickly changed to a yellow

Quick-thinking keeper James Shea admitted his knowledge of the new rules saw him stay on the pitch despite being sent off against Barnet in the Checkatrade Trophy yesterday evening.

The Luton stopper had been shown red by referee John Busby in the 63rd minute for bringing down Andre Blackman in the area, the Bees striker nipping on to Johnny Mullins’ weak backpass.

To be fair the ref was as good as gold, he said ‘I’m sorry, you’re right’ and then he ended up giving me a yellow.

James Shea

Shea was originally dismissed, before reminding the official of the new rule which means if a genuine attempt is made for the ball inside the area, then a yellow card can be shown.

That saw Busby change his mind, booking Town’s keeper instead, as on the incident, Shea said: “They got the penalty and I was getting sent off and then I wasn’t sent off, it was a bit confusing, but in the end, the right outcome came about.

“Mulls has given us a short backpass, then the fella has just got there before me, took it round me.

“I made an attempt to go for the ball and then he’s blown up, given the pen and then come over and sent me off.

“But there’s a new rule that’s come in, which I knew was about, so as soon as he gave the red, I said ‘ref the new rule’s about, as long as I made an attempt to get the ball, you can’t send me off, it’s just a booking.’

“To be fair the ref was as good as gold, he said ‘I’m sorry, you’re right’ and then he ended up giving me a yellow.

“I’ve spoken to Kevin (Dearden), who was on to the fourth official and think the fourth official was on to him as well, but the right outcome came out in the end.”

Even when the red was brandished, Shea was always confident that wasn’t the end of his evening’s work, as he continued: “I kind of knew if I made an attempt for the ball, I shouldn’t be getting sent off.

“As soon as he give me the red card, I still didn’t think I was going to get sent off, I was kind of quite confident he was going to overturn it, so fair play to the ref.

“The ref said to me, ‘I apologise, I got it wrong’ and ended up just giving me a yellow which to be fair, it was a yellow.

“Fair dues to the ref though as he admitted his mistake and he was quick to overturn it.

“I would have been disappointed to be missing the next game too (AFC Wimbledon away), as I’m looking forward to going back there.”

Manager Nathan Jones was annoyed that Shea had been placed in that position in the first place, as he said: “We would prefer that he didn’t have to defend that.

“If Johnny Mullins had been switched on a little bit more and had a better backpass, hadn’t been sloppy in his play then we shouldn’t have to defend that.

“So it was just sloppy play all round, but we managed to get away with that.”

On the ensuing confusion over the colour of the card, Jones said: “I think the referee remembered the rule and credit to him, as some wouldn’t have changed their mind.

“It was the double jeopardy thing and he made the correct decision in the end and that was that.

“I think it came from the fourth official too, he realised the error and told him and they turned it around and it helped us, I’m glad he (Shea) was switched on too.”

Striker Elliot Lee was also relieved to see Shea remain between the posts, the keeper going on to save from David Tutonda in the penalty shootout that Luton triumphed 4-3 in.

He added: “I didn’t quite know what was going on.

“I knew the rule had changed so he can’t send him off, but it was a bit bizarre the ref giving him a red and then a yellow, but luckily Sheasy stayed on the pitch.

“I think Sheasy kept himself on the pitch and it was good he stayed on because he saved the pen too.”