Blackburn Rovers boss Tony Mowbray bemoans 'soft' penalty in defeat by Leeds United, questions standard of Championship refereeing

Tony Mowbray took umbrage with what he said was a 'soft' penalty awarded to Leeds United in his Blackburn Rovers side's 2-1 defeat at Elland Road.
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Referee Gavin Ward decided that Luke Ayling had been impeded by Tosin Ardarabioyo in the major talking point of the first half, a decision that caused Mowbray to question the current standard of officiating in the division.

Patrick Bamford stepped up to stroke home the resulting penalty and score his first goal in a little over 10 games.

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Leeds, with their tails up, grabbed a second five minutes later through Jack Harrison and looked home and hosed on 35 minutes.

Rovers managed to turn the atmosphere from jubilant to nervous with Derrick Williams' 40th minute header from a Stewart Downing corner, but they created little else after that.

"It was a pretty tense game," said Mowbray, who felt his men were coping well with Leeds' intensity in the first half until Ayling went down in the box.

"I think you have to match their energy, their legs, their athleticism. We did that particularly well. First half hour I'm not sure they had a shot.

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"The referee gives a penalty, I've seen it back a few times, it's soft to say the best, never a penalty to say the worst. It spoiled a little bit of the game. The context, it didn't fit in with the game, a lot of physicality, a lot of energy, a lot of tackles, a lot of players going 100 per cent.

Tony Mowbray was frustrated with the first half penalty awarded to Leeds (Pic: Getty)Tony Mowbray was frustrated with the first half penalty awarded to Leeds (Pic: Getty)
Tony Mowbray was frustrated with the first half penalty awarded to Leeds (Pic: Getty)

"That was a frustration, it's not the first one, I think we had one at Preston the other week.

"Is the standard dropping, is it really poor in the Championship this year or is just me? It feels as if that game was a bit too much for him today but it feels harsh also on a young guy making his living as a referee.

"It felt to me, in the context of the game it was a very soft penalty that gave them an option to get in front.

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"Leeds were finding it difficult to score today in my opinion and were given a leg up with a very soft penalty."

Mowbray insisted he wasn't trying to paint a picture that said his side deserved more than they got, but rued his side's inability to capitalise on the nerves around Elland Road when Williams pulled a goal back.

"They're a very good team, I don't want to come here and say we deserved this, deserved that.

"They didn't have hundreds of shots. We felt pretty comfortable, when we got back to 2-1 there was a nervousness about it.

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"The frustration for us about our team was we didn't have the quality ultimately to prey on that nervousness at 2-1 for such a long time.

"The last 20 minutes I felt we'd get something from the game and it never materialised."

He credited Leeds for the the way they make life difficult for opponents and expressed admiration for United's stylish second goal - Bamford taking down a Kalvin Phillips long ball and teeing up Harrison for his second in two games - and praised his own men for not buckling when that goal went in.

But his overriding feeling was one of frustration.

"They've got the best defensive record in the league, they're a really intense team, it's not just because they've got great defenders, they're an amazing team at pressing the ball, closing you down, not allowing you to build up slowly. They're a great team.

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"The second goal was a great goal, a long, direct ball, a brilliant take down, a great ball inside and a great finish. They score great goals, they've got good players.

"At Elland Road you've got to be proud of your team that we didn't cave in and fought back into the game to make it nervous for them but it means very little sitting here with no points.

"It doesn't matter about their possession or our possession, you have to score.

"I did think we would get something but we didn't have the quality ultimately."