Premier League: Warnock fumes as Palace slump towards danger

Frank Dalleres
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Steven Fletcher wrapped up Sunderland’s victory while, inset, Palace fans show their opposition to plans to stage top-flight matches abroad

CRYSTAL Palace boss Neil Warnock blamed poor officiating last night after defeat to fellow strugglers Sunderland pushed his 10 men to within one place of the drop zone.

On a night when some Palace fans used the match to protest against Premier League plans to stage games overseas, Warnock was equally aggrieved after seeing his side denied a first-minute penalty and have captain Mile Jedinak sent off.

Two goals from Steven Fletcher either side of a crisp Jordi Gomez strike lifted Sunderland to 15th and outweighed a sixth career own goal for Wes Brown.

“You don’t get a clearer penalty than Fraizer Campbell’s,” said Warnock, who faces a Football Association hearing this week over comments made about officials following last month’s loss to Chelsea. “The referee was in a good position but said he didn’t see it and I find it very difficult how he did not see that. To say we’re not getting decisions is an understatement.

“I don’t think I need to say anything; everyone’s seen the incidents I’ve been talking about. They could have been down to 10 men 35 seconds in; they change games. All we want is for top class referees to get decisions right.”

Palace’s first penalty claim came in the opening seconds, when Fraizer Campbell burst onto Marouane Chamakh’s flick-on and glided past Santiago Vergini into the area, only to be halted by the Argentinian defender’s mistimed tackle. Referee Phil Dowd waved play on.

By the time their second came and went – for Patrick van Aanholt’s lunge on the sparky Wilfried Zaha – Steven Fletcher had silenced Selhurst Park by nodding a Van Aanholt cross down and beyond Julian Speroni.

Drama broke out off the field in the 38th minute, when a pocket of Palace fans – and with Premier League chief Richard Scudamore watching from the stands – let off bangers and held up banners opposing plans to stage top-flight games abroad.

Palace equalised 10 minutes after half-time when Costel Pantilimon pushed Chanakh’s weak header clear but Campbell back-heeled the ball towards the goalmouth and substitute Brown diverted it into his own net.

The home side pressed for a winner but careless defending proved their undoing 11 minutes from time, a wayward pass allowing Will Buckley to tee up Gomez to drill a measured 20-yard shot low past Speroni.

Jedinak was shown a second yellow moments later before Sunderland again punished lax defending as Fletcher lifted the ball over Speroni.