Leeds United v Portsmouth: Fuming bosses blast referee

Leeds United manager Simon Grayson bemoaned a "very average" display from referee David Webb after the official's performance compounded a galling 3-3 draw with Portsmouth.

Leeds surrendered two attainable Championship points for the second time in 48 hours as an own goal from Andy O'Brien handed Portsmouth a reprieve in injury-time at Elland Road.

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But Grayson was frustrated by two key decisions made by Webb, one denying his side a penalty and the other ruling out a close-range finish from striker Ross McCormack.

United were leading 3-2 at the time, in the closing stages of a dramatic league game, and they were stung deep into five added minutes when O'Brien turned a cross from Nadir Ciftci into his own net.

Portsmouth's fightback came two days after Leicester City recovered from two goals down to deny Leeds a victory at the Walkers Stadium, but Grayson was at a loss to understand Webb's failure to award a "stonewall penalty" for a foul by Ibrahima Sonko on McCormack.

A crowd of over 30,000 berated Webb at the final whistle and Grayson said: "It was a big decision. I asked the referee why he didn't think it was a penalty and he said that he just didn't think it was a foul.

But his linesman was 15 yards away and right in front of it.

"I thought he (Webb) was very average for both teams. McCormack's

McCormack's had a stonewall penalty turned down. Our fans are knowledgeable and they wouldn't give the referee the stick he got coming off the field for no reason. I'm not going to say how good or bad the referee was. I'll just say I thought our fans were right."

Portsmouth manager Steve Cotterill admitted that Sonko's challenge on McCormack appeared to be a foul, though he questioned whether the tackle had taken place inside Portsmouth's box.

But he was more scathing in his criticism of Webb, saying: "Early on I didn't think we got the rub of the green. But in the second half he evened it up because Leeds didn't get the rub of the green.

"I don't know the referee's experience and I haven't seen him before but when you've got big games like this today...I'll bet you there was a more experienced referee refereeing in front of 10,000 people somewhere.

"Good luck to him but do you think this is this the right game to give him? I personally don't. But we deserved to come out of it with at least a draw."

Despite Webb's display, Grayson was again disappointed by his side's inability to defend the 2-0 lead given to them inside 10 minutes by Max Gradel and Jonathan Howson or the 3-1 advantage established by Bradley Johnson's 62nd minute goal.

Portsmouth replied within seconds of Johnson's finish, leaving the game in the balance, and Grayson blamed a breakdown in communication between O'Brien and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel for the visitors' third goal.

"We were 2-0 up at Leicester and could quite easily have had six points out of these two games," he said. "I was really pleased with the way we played and with our work ethic but we made individual mistakes.

"We switched off at 3-1 and let them straight back into the game. A lack of communication for the third goal has cost us.

"I'm disappointed with the manner of the goals we've conceded but there are too many positives for me to worry about the negatives. We'll make mistakes in the Championship because we're new to it and we're learning. I'm still delighted that we're 11 games unbeaten."

Grayson confirmed that Neil Kilkenny will travel to the Asian Cup after Saturday's match against Middlesbrough following his call-up to the Australian national squad.

The midfielder was included in a 23-man party announced by the Socceroos yesterday and could miss four of United's five fixtures next month.

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