Rowett in rage over Costel-ly red row
BURNLEY boss Sean Dyche summed it up perfectly – the occasion was always going to be bigger than the game.
The script hadn’t got this one down as a 0-0 but that’s the way it goes sometimes.
After the tragedy outside the King Power Stadium two weeks ago yesterday, football took second place.
Dyche said: “It was tricky. You want to win but if you did it still would have been pretty much incidental.
“It was very tough on us – even more so on Leicester. It was hard. Leicester fans wouldn’t expect a team to come here and just let things happen.
“It’s kind of strange when the occasion was bigger than the actual game but I’ve got total professional respect for Leicester and their players.
“And I’ve got great pride in my lads too because we’ve had a pretty tough run of results. But I thought we were better today.”
Leicester’s Marc Albrighton admitted the club was still grieving. He said: “This week has been hard. We went to Thailand and paid our respects to Vichai and his family. It is something we felt we wanted to do.
“It is a tough time for everyone but everyone has done their part. Every single person at this club has stuck together.
“It’s going to be a tough road. The lads are emotionally drained. Today was one of the hardest games I have ever played. It’s hard to focus.” They were all there – title-winning boss Claudio Ranieri and previous bosses Nigel Pearson and Craig Shakespeare along with the owner’s son Aiyawatt, or ‘Top’ as he’s better known.
All there, bar one – Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the man whose tragic death made this occasion such a heart-wrenching affair.
Dyche’s men and their supporters acted respectfully as they found themselves wrapped up in an occasion in which they were only bit-part players. When Leicester sub Shinji Okazaki flashed a header just wide of the angle in stoppage time, you could sense in the groan from the crowd that this game was not going to finish the way fate might have dictated.
A goalless draw will never be so well remembered. From the rainbow beaming eerily over the Family Stand to the sight of the players and Top taking an emotional lap of appreciation round the pitch, the match was largely unimportant.
Had it not been for Burnley keeper Joe Hart, Leicester would have recorded the win they deserved over the 90 minutes.
They didn’t get it and it didn’t really matter. But if anyone needed to look for a reason, Hart was the key figure. Former Leicester man Chris Wood might well have really been the pantomime villain late on but volleyed over.
The home side should have been in front by the interval after dominating the biggest part of the opening 45 minutes and Rachid Ghezzal had every right to feel particularly aggrieved to see his 21st-minute diving header thump against the crossbar.
While Kasper Schmeichel had mainly routine work to do in that opening period, Hart was by far the busier.
He had to go low to his right early on to fingertip a Wilfred Ndidi 25-yarder and a minute later Charlie Taylor was extremely lucky to survive penalty appeals.
And when Hart could only get a hand to a Marc Albrighton cross, Jamie Vardy’s follow-up was cleared off the line by Matt Lowton. GARY ROWETT has already had a brush with the law-makers this season so he was staying on the right side of the rules having met with referee Oliver Langwood after the game.
Stoke boss Rowett wanted to find out why Forest keeper Costel Pantilimon escaped a red card after sprinting out of the area and connecting with Benik Afobe in the first half.
Rowett said: “The FA expect managers to behave and I would expect referees to make the right decision at the right time. He’s got it horribly wrong.
“I’ve been to see him, I haven’t berated him but he’s made a mistake. He believes Benik jumped out of the way but he’s caught him. I’ve seen it on replay, 10 times.”
A game devoid of any meaningful action – unless you count the fanbaiting of midfielder James McClean – burst into life halfway through the first half.
Afobe’s run sucked Pantilimon to the outer edge of the area and he made a desperate attempt to stop the Stoke striker.
Afobe tumbled and, instead of picking himself up and knocking the ball into an empty net, turned to the referee to appeal for a decision. Langford’s cards stayed put.
Every member of the Stoke staff was as purple-faced as the team’s underwhelming away strip, utterly convinced they had been robbed. Fuelled by rage they then hit a purple patch on the pitch.
Chief tormenter was McClean, who observed the minute’s silence with his team-mates and who looked quite unconcerned by the home fans’ ire as he skipped up and down the wings.
It was one such run which required a last-gasp clearance by Tendayi Darikwa. McClean also hit the side-netting.
The second half was better than the first and the last five or so minutes were belting, especially if you happened to be Jack Butland.
First Butland turned a Joe Lolley shot wide and then, twice, he closed down to deny Lewis Grabban.
Forest manager Aitor Karanka said: “In the first half we showed them too much respect.”
REF MIST: Gary Rowett