AnDREW Lonergan is praying tonight’s man-in-the-middle displays more common sense than Anthony Taylor did in Saturday’s home encounter with Middlesbrough – to avoid potentially spoiling another derby.
Eddie Ilderton takes charge of this evening’s White Rose joust with Hull City. The corresponding Championship fixture at Elland Road last November saw one player – Tigers midfielder John Bostock – receive his marching orders and the referee issue six yellow cards in all.
The net result of Taylor’s actions is that depleted United go into tonight’s Tigers’ clash without captain Jonathan Howson and key winger Max Gradel – both dismissed by the Cheshire official – and his controversial performance in the 1-0 loss to Boro left a sour taste in the mouth of Lonergan following his busy league debut at Elland Road.
The former Preston stopper said: “We had a lady who came from the Football Association the other day talking about referees and the rights and wrongs and the clamping down. But if that’s what is going to happen this season then it’s going to ruin football.
“People are paying good money to watch a game of football and it wasn’t a dirty game.
“The referee was just flashing cards out and maybe he could have given players just a word of warning.
“I know they have got a job to do, but for me personally, to send two people off with two red cards in the first half and so many bookings was just silly.
“Coming to Leeds might be a daunting thing for some refs as it’s some atmosphere.”
While United were left to pick up the pieces following a second league reverse on the spin, Lonergan at least had the consolation of a well-deserved man-of-the-award to fall back on. He made a string of fine second-half saves to deny Boro a bigger margin of victory after the hosts were reduced to nine men.
But that solace felt pretty scant for the 27-year-old, who would have gladly swapped it for a positive result.
“Personally, it’s always nice to be recognised, but I’d rather the centre-forward had got the award after scoring a hat-trick.
“At least, there were a lot of positives in terms of the spirit.
“I was saying to the lads on the pitch that if we could keep it to 1-0 we’d still have a chance, but they defended well.
“If everyone gives everything, that’s all you can ask for.
“We improved from last week. The Southampton game was always going to be a tough one, from our point. They had so much momentum after just coming up and it was going to be tough.”