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Pardew: Defoe was unlucky

Filed: Saturday, 8th November 2003
By: Graeme Howlett

Hammers boss Alan Pardew has leapt to the defence of striker Jermain Defoe, who received his marching orders for a late tackle in this afternoon's 4-3 defeat against West Bromwich Albion.

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Defoe - who saw red in the final minute of the first half, with the Hammers leading 3-2 and having already been booked (albeit harshly) - was dismissed by referee Mike Deane for a late tackle on the Baggies Sean Gregan.

However Pardew claimed tonight that Gregan made a meal of the challenge, and suggested that the defender's reaction was a critical factor in deciding Defoe's fate.

"The first booking was particularly harsh - I don't think Jermain even looked for a penalty," he said, speaking of the referee's decision to book Defoe for diving on the edge of the box. "His legs went and he got booked. The referee was right in front of the incident - I've just seen it and it didn't look too bad to me.

"The sending off? Jermain was slightly late although I think he made a genuine attempt to play the ball. But the reaction of the player [Gregan] I didn't think was helpful.

"I didn't think Jermain caught him, and having just watched it again I think the kid can count himself unlucky to get sent off. The challenge wa a bit fast and quick - but he's suffered from the professionalism in the game today.

"And that will be a blow that we're going to take into another game - or another three games, depending on how it's viewed."

Not surprisingly Baggies boss Gary Megson saw it somewhat differently.

"I thought Jermain's tackle was a centre-forward's tackle," he said. "He was pumped up and went diving into a tackle from a long way away.

"As Sean struck the ball Defoe caught him on the top of the foot. I don't think he left the referee with too much choice."

Defoe's fate as a result of his second red card of the season remains to be seen. But as he was shown a straight red card a three match ban would appear to be the most likely outcome - something Pardew and his team can ill afford as they attempt to regain form and mount a challenge to return to the automatic promotion slots.

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