Keith Hackett has defended Neil Hair’s decision to award a penalty in Sunderland’s late draw with Fleetwood Town on Saturday afternoon.
The Black Cats looked set to put another three points on the board after producing an impressive performance on the road.
Ross Stewart headed Sunderland in front on 19 minutes, with Aiden McGeady doubling their lead from the penalty spot on 76 minutes.
But Fleetwood ignited a late turnaround, with Callum Morton finishing coolly into the bottom corner from inside the area.
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Deep into stoppage time, the Cod Army were awarded a controversial penalty. Bailey Wright looked to have kept held hold of Morton’s shirt, and even though the striker did not go down, a penalty was given.
Ged Garner subsequently stepped up and fired beyond Thorben Hoffmann to salvage a late point for Fleetwood, with Sunderland missing out on another win.
Lee Johnson lambasted the decision to award a penalty after the game, insisting his side were the victims of “bad refereeing”.
But speaking to Football Insider, Keith Hackett, the former FIFA and Premier League referee, defended Hair’s decision to give a penalty.
He said: “Well, if we get holding offences and they are penalised consistently by referees then it will stop the problem. The referee’s in a good position, a really good position to see it.
“That’s the danger. If a player holds the shirt of an opponent, that’s penalised. In terms of law, the referee has seen it and penalised it. He’s clearly shown what it’s for.
“I don’t have any complaints. I think the referee has got it right. I’ve questioned the inconsistency of refereeing and when a referee decides to punish it, they get criticised.
“For me, I support the referee.”
I know it may not look like a foul as Morton didn’t go to ground, but you cannot cling onto someone’s shirt and expect not to be punished.
In doing so, Wright was stopping Morton from getting into full movement and motion, and was obstructing him in an unfair way.
It’s obviously gutting for Sunderland to concede that late on, though, and they need to take that frustration into the next game and get back to winning ways.