FORMER LEEDS UNITED head coach Neil Redfearn has claimed that the elbow from Rotherham United striker Leon Best which left Whites defender Gaetano Berardi with a bloodied nose last weekend was purely an accident.
Both Best and Berardi received their marching orders for violent conduct from referee Keith Stroud in the 72nd minute of United’s 1-0 home loss to the Millers, with the Leeds full-back angrily pushing his opponent to the ground after being struck by an elbow.
Berardi’s ban was subsequently reduced from three to two matches upon a successful appeal by Leeds, who asked the Football Association to review footage of the second-half incident.
Meanwhile, Millers manager Redfearn, who has reviewed the incident, is adamant that Best was also hard done by to be dismissed for an elbowing offence and insists that there was no malice in the challenge.
He added that he believes that the angry reaction of the Leeds players helped contribute to his players’ dismissal.
Redfearn said: “I think the thing is with head collisions and elbows and things like that, if you’re in the player’s eyeline than there’s an argument for it (sending off).
“But Berardi was not in Leon Best’s eyeline. He’s actually behind Leon, to one side of him. If you look at when the ball comes in, Leon actually steps across and puts his arm across to start shielding the ball and Berardi steps into it. It made a mess of Berardi’s nose and that’s unfortunate.
“It looked probably worse than what it was.
“But the reaction of Berardi and other players is probably what got Leon sent off. I don’t think the referee saw it, if I’m honest. The linesman said there was no malice in the challenge.”
He added: “Leon is devastated. I don’t think the boy has done it on purpose. He was quite upset that Berardi got the injury that he got. I don’t think he’s intentionally gone out to do it. I made my point to David (Allison).
Redfearn spoke with referees’ chief Allison earlier this week to seek clarity after initially being told by Stroud that Best had been sent off for a perceived headbutt during a brief fracas with Berardi.
Redfearn says that the subsequent referee’s report said that Best had in fact been dismissed for an elbowing offence, with the lack of transparency a source of frustration to him.
He added: I spoke to Dave Allison at the Football League. The problem I had was that the referee said to Leon when he was sending him off that he was sending him off for a headbutt.
“Eric Black (Millers assistant) went in to see the referee after and the referee stuck by his story. He actually told Steve Evans the same thing.
“Yet in his report, he sent him off for an elbow. There’s no consistency there. My point was to David was that they actually sent him off for something he didn’t (intentionally) do.
“The referee (initially) consulted the linesman and sent off Leon for a headbutt. They got it wrong. They got it badly wrong. I don’t think it was premeditated and I don’t think it was done on purpose.
“David Allison was really good. I know that it’s been brought up.
“If the referee is going to make a decision to send a player off and be that specific, you’ve got to follow it through with the same reason and not change your mind and say it’s something else after.
“With referees, I’m always fair. I try to give a constructive opinion. I always try to say the right things to help them because I know they’ve got a difficult job, and I mean that genuinely. It’s not easy. But there has got to be some consistency.
“For such a major decision, to send two players off, you’ve got to be spot on. The clarity wasn’t there.”