Cotterill: Key moment cost us

Liam Lawrence is given his marching orders by referee Roger East
Liam Lawrence is given his marching orders by referee Roger East
Jamal Lowe. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Steve Cotterill laid the blame at the referee – rather than Liam Lawrence – for what he feels was the key moment in Pompey’s 4-3 loss at West Ham.

Lawrence had already been booked for a tackle on Henri Lansbury in the first half when he mistimed a sliding challenge on Hammers substitute David Bentley.

That earned the Blues skipper another yellow as he saw red for the second time in his Pompey career.

Cotterill felt the latter booking was justified but he took issue with the first yellow card issued by referee Roger East.

And although Lawrence himself will regret his decision to take the risk, having already been booked with the game finely-poised at 2-2, Cotterill instead felt the referee made a rod for his own back by brandishing the cards too frequently.

The Pompey boss said: ‘It (Lawrence’s dismissal) was the turning point.

‘I don’t think the first booking should have been given for the sending off.

‘There were a few bookings that shouldn’t have been given.

‘The second booking, I’ve got no problem with. It was a booking, 100-per-cent.

‘The first one, I am not sure about. But when you start booking players early in the game, it becomes a problem because once you get one booking, everybody is on at everyone else – I do the same and you want it evened up.

‘I would rather there wasn’t a booking in the first place.

‘Some of them were not bookings for me and they always lead to sendings off.’

Whether Lawrence deserved to walk or not, the result was certainly harsh on Pompey, who turned in a good performance against a side tipped to win the Championship this season.

Carlton Cole deflected Luke Varney’s effort past Robert Green for the opener before Blues old-boy Matt Taylor and Lansbury put the home side ahead.

David Norris headed in an equaliser to set up a thrilling finish.

But with Lawrence sent off, a controversial Mark Noble penalty and a Cole header handed the Hammers the points, ensuring Greg Halford’s penalty with the last kick of the game was mere consolation for the Blues.

Former Pompey striker Freddie Piquionne was also ordered off in stoppage time for a shove in the face of Halford.

And Cotterill felt his team should have come away with the victory after their performance.

He said: ‘Perhaps the referee felt he evened it up by sending Piquionne off, but it was that late in the game, there was no point. It was ridiculous.

‘We were the better team by a million miles – we dominated 65 minutes of the game.

‘I don’t know how many bookings there were but the referees have this thing at the start of a season where they seem to want to book everyone – I don’t know why they do it.

‘We created the best chances, we played the better football, but that’s how frustrating it is.’