Irvine bemused by referee's decision

PUBLISHED: 09:37 31 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:47 06 July 2010

PRESTON boss Alan Irvine was bemused with referee Paul Taylor's decision to award Ipswich a penalty, for handball against Callum Davidson during Saturday's 1-1 draw.

PRESTON boss Alan Irvine was bemused with referee Paul Taylor's decision to award Ipswich a penalty, for handball against Callum Davidson during Saturday's 1-1 draw.

It was a big turning point, because left-back Davidson was sent off for deliberate handball - he was deemed to have illegally prevented Liam Trotter's shot from flying into the net. Town also scored from the ensuing penalty, although Jon Walters needed two bites at the cherry before slotting the rebound beyond keeper Andy Lonergan.

“The ball hit his (Davidson's) arm, but his arms were in front of him. He was not making himself bigger, with his arms apart, which is what we are being told is the criteria (for deliberate handball),” insisted Irvine.

“It was a natural reaction to someone smashing a ball at you from five or six yards away. It was like a knee-jerk reaction.

“It was a poor decision, and it was the linesman who gave it. The referee showed the red card to someone else at first, Sean St Ledger I think, which tells you that he probably didn't have a very clear view of it!

“But we will probably not appeal. We will take it on the chin,” added Irvine.

Preston remain unbeaten this season, and are sitting pretty in sixth spot in the table. They are also looking forward to entertaining Tottenham in the third round of the Carling Cup next month.

Irvine enthused: “I have a terrific group of players who work extremely hard. They are prepared to do the horrible jobs in order the stay in games.

“At half-time, I said that we could go into the second half in two frames of mind. Firstly, we could feel sorry for ourselves and be angry, or secondly we could go out there and get a result.

“I had every faith in them. I told them this at half-time, and I could see it in their eyes.

“Last season, we had the best record in the second half (in the Championship), and also the best record for coming back from a goal behind.

“We have practised 10 versus 11 in training many times. Perhaps we could have passed it a bit better on the counter-attack.

“I had just been hoping for half-time to come (before the equaliser), because we had been bringing pressure on ourselves in the middle of the park, with a few too many fouls.”

Irvine guided Preston into the play-offs last season, and he believes that his opposite number Roy Keane will turn it around at Portman Road.

The Scotsman insisted: “Results so far for Ipswich have not gone as well as they would have hoped, but these are early days for Roy.

“He's trying to build a team himself here. I only won three of my first 10 games as manager. It's just a matter of time.

“Portman Road will continue to be a difficult place to come. Roy has a proven record, and I think in time that he will do a tremendous job here,” added Irvine.

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