Leeds United: Referee turned game into ‘non-contact sport’ – Forshaw

Adam Forshaw on the ball against Brentford.
Adam Forshaw on the ball against Brentford.
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Leeds United midfielder Adam Forshaw blamed referee Jeremy Simpson for turning Saturday’s game against Brentford into a “non-contact sport” – but warned Leeds not to leave themselves at the mercy of officials after a feisty 1-1 draw.

Simpson was the focus of attention at Elland Road after his award of a second-half penalty to Brentford and a red card shown to Luke Ayling in the final seconds of the match left the Lancashire official under fire at end of an eventful Championship clash.

Pontus Jansson scoring Leeds United's equalising goal against Brentford.

Pontus Jansson scoring Leeds United's equalising goal against Brentford.

Brentford were handed a spot-kick for a 62nd-minute challenge by Leeds goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell on Ollie Watkins but replays showed Watkins going to ground before Peacock-Farrell made contact with him. Neal Maupay converted the penalty to claim his 10th goal of the season.

Simpson, meanwhile, sent Ayling off in the 94th minute for a second bookable offence having earlier shown leniency to Brentford full-back Moses Odubajo over a late foul which came with Odubajo already on a yellow card.

Pontus Jansson’s header on 88 minutes eventually salvaged a draw for Leeds, who dropped below Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion to third in the table, but the Swede led the post-match criticism of Simpson, accusing the refereeing of “robbing” United.

Forshaw, who took to the field as a substitute immediately after Maupay’s penalty, described the spot-kick as “soft” and expressed frustration over a match littered with 33 free-kicks.

You’ve got two really fluid sides who want to play in the right way and the referee treated the game like it was almost a non-contact sport,

Adam Forshaw

“You’ve got two really fluid sides who want to play in the right way and the referee treated the game like it was almost a non-contact sport,” Forshaw said. “He blew his whistle far too much and ruined any sort of fluidity.

“He didn’t give the game rhythm for two teams who wanted to play nice, fluent, attacking football. I wouldn’t say he spoilt it. He just didn’t have a good game at all.”

Jansson could face a Football Association sanction over his comments and the FA is likely to look into other incidents from Saturday’s game, including an alleged headbutt by Brentford’s Sergi Canos on United winger Gjanni Alioski. Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa declined to be critical of Simpson and Forshaw said: “I’ve always said that if you’re a good enough side you don’t have to rely on officials. You don’t have to waste as much energy on them.

“The manager’s massive on that and he says to us ‘don’t get involved with the referee, the linesmen or the fourth official’ and that if we rise above it and we’re good enough, eventually we don’t have to depend on those people.” Leeds were minutes away from a second Championship defeat of the season when Jansson produced his first league goal since March.

Brentford’s willingness to attack Leeds had caused Bielsa’s side problems from the outset but Forshaw claimed a late equaliser had demonstrated United’s superior fitness.

“You can’t play beautiful in this league every week,” he said. “Off the top of my head what’s really pleasing is that against Preston at home, Sheffield Wednesday away and in this game we’ve looked a lot fitter than the opposition. I feel that’s evident.

“We’ve scored late goals like Jack (Harrison) at Millwall and Pontus here and hopefully that can push us through to keep picking up valuable points because they’ll count at the end of the season.

“Brentford are fluent, nice on the eye and they play through the lines. They’ll be up there but the only thing I would say is that they lack that little bit of experience or grit in the last minutes that we’re starting to show.”

“If you watched the second half, they were more on the ropes than we were. Although we didn’t have real clear-cut chances, I think we were in the ascendancy. But it’s still a decent result.”