Hatters midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu denied claims that he told Newport County players he dived to win the controversial deciding penalty during last night’s League Two contest at Kenilworth Road.
With seconds left, the 23-year-old burst into the area, before appearing to go down fairly easily under a challenge, which referee Charles Breakspear deemed was worthy of a spot kick.
“I thought it was a penalty straight away, I felt a bit of contact so I’m going to go down, it’s how the ref viewed and thankfully gave a penalty to us.”Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu
Clearly incensed by the decision, the County players then lost their cool and after the game alleged Mpanzu had confirmed he went to ground too easily.
However, the Luton man was quick to set the record straight, saying: “I can’t speak for their players, but I never said anything to them.
“If that’s what they said, that’s what they said, I can’t control what they’re going to say, so that’s their views.
“I’ll keep my cool, I’ve got to focus on our players, focus on what the manager says, so whatever they say can’t harm you as they’re not my players.
“Our players said get away from them, we kept calm, thanked the fans and walked off the pitch calmly.”
On whether he felt it was a penalty in the first place, Mpanzu continued: “Yes, I’ve driven into the box, I felt contact and gone down. I had one before and the ref didn’t give it, so if the ref gives it it’s a penalty and Cam’s (McGeehan) got to put the ball in the back of the net and thankfully he did.
“I thought it was a penalty straight away, I felt a bit of contact so I’m going to go down, it’s how the ref viewed and thankfully gave a penalty to us.”
When asked about the angry scenes afterwards in which a number of the Newport players continually approached the Hatters midfielder, he added: “They were saying that I dived and that I’m a cheating guy, so I said ‘there’s contact, you’ve got to talk to the referee about it’.
“I’ve kept a calm head, Cam’s kept a calm head, they were saying he’s going to miss, and he’s thankfully put the ball in the back of the net.
“It was a bit difficult, but you’ve got to keep your composure, you react and the ref gives a red card to you, then what are you, suspended for three games, so you’ve got to keep your composure and thankfully our players did.
“Obviously they’re not going to be happy with the ref giving us a penalty and they’ve lost the game, but we’ve got to keep our heads, keep focused on the game and thankfully we did that and came away with three points.”