Carlisle United manager Keith Curle accused the match referee of being 'biased' following Good Friday's 0-0 draw against Yeovil Town. The 52 year old, who was born in Bristol and played for both Bristol Rovers and Bristol City as well as managing Torquay United is no stranger to the West Country, but suggested that Somerset FA referee Kevin Johnson was specifically favouring the home side in yesterday's draw, and also went on to accuse Glovers of trying to get his own side's players booked during the game.
The match was largely a sedate affair, with referee Johnson only raising three yellow cards during the match, including Yeovil's Matt Dolan. The match officials even took a relaxed view of an off the ball incident late in the second half involving Ben Tozer and Danny Grainger, preferring to just talk to both players rather than get his cards out. Curle's complaint after the game to BBC Radio Cumbria was that he felt that Johnson was showing bias against his team, specifically citing the official's Bristol accent that he'd picked up before the game started:
"I did have a slight indication from the referee's accent before the game that he was one of my fellow (Bristol) countrymen down here. So obviously a little bit of bias might be creeping in. It was summed up for me when we had a corner, and someone sat behind me said he blew up before we even took the corner. That tells you that we weren't going to be allowed to get anywhere near their goal."
Curle also seemed aggrieved with the booking handed out to Carlisle midfielder Martin Smith, who had already been given a 'last warning' by referee Johnson for first kicking the ball away, and then committing a further foul. When the Sunderland loanee transgressed a third time, the yellow card semed inevitable, but Curle strongly implied that Brandon Goodship had taken a fall to get the player booked. He also complained that there was an imbalance in the way the official blew up for free kicks:
"We weren't being helped in that any sort of challenge from us was resulting in a free kick, whilst any sort of challenge from them was waved play on. Then players were starting to get a little bit frustrated with that and they started looking for free kicks and looking for things that weren't there. It was evident that every time one of their players went down and kissed the grass, they got a free kick. It's something that I'm not going to advocate or ever put on a training session for us to go and get players booked, but I think that today some of the Yeovil players went down very very easily."
On the game itself, Curle admitted that his side hadn't made the right decisions in the final third at times. But he was pleased to keep a clean sheet, noting that of the two goalkeepers, that Artur Krysiak had been the busier of the two, claiming that his own keeper hadn't made a save throughout the whole game:
"We lacked a little bit of quality in our decision-making in the final third. I'll take the clean sheet away from home. But we didn't put enough balls into the box and every time we did put the ball in the box, for some reason the referee blew up, which was always causing a level of frustration. So we didn't have enough passages of play and we didn't keep hold of the ball well enough, but when we did get into the final third we didn't deliver quality. But overall you take a point away from home. We had 94 minutes there and our goalkeeper hasn't made a save, but likewise we don't think we worked their goalkeeper enough. Our goalkeeper was untroubled - he had more trouble from his own team with our backpasses than any attempts on goal from them."
Curle's comments on referee Kevin Johnson overlook the fact that whilst he is registered with the Somerset FA, he is more of a Bristolian, who used to work at the Bristol Evening Post as a newspaper printer, but now works in property maintenance in the Redfield part of the city. Indeed, Yeovil Town have not found favour with the official in the past - the two penalties awarded against the Glovers in the Boxing Day 2014 match against Bristol City, when viewed on the post-match video of that match, and his overall performance on that day, hardly suggested a referee trying to hand out favours to the team in green'n'white!
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