Wayne Rooney slammed “unacceptable” refereeing after his Derby side suffered a damaging 2-1 defeat at Blackburn.
Tom Lawrence’s second goal of the season gave Derby a lead they looked set to build on until Sam Gallagher’s free header levelled before the break. Harvey Elliott then marked his 50th senior appearance by firing in the winner midway through the second half to deal a potentially devastating blow to the Rams, who remain just above the drop zone, four points ahead of Rotherham having played three games more.
Derby have now won one in 11 games and Rooney called on the referees’ chief, Alan Wiley, to take action after deeming Stephen Martin to have missed a “clear” penalty when Festy Ebosele went down in the box late on.
Rooney said: “I’ve seen the replay and it’s the most clear penalty you could ever see. I didn’t need to see a replay. Where I was stood, the fourth official was stood right beside me, the referee’s got a great view of it, and it’s completely unacceptable, the decision to not give a penalty.
“Listen, I know referees, it’s a tough job, I respect that. They get decisions wrong at times, but this one is completely unacceptable. I don’t really want to go this route, but Alan Wiley has to take action, because that is unacceptable. I’ve asked to speak to the referee calmly, I’m not going to go in shouting and rant. All I wanted is an explanation into how he can’t see it’s a penalty.”
Blackburn’s manager, Tony Mowbray, was happy to reach the 50-point mark after ending a run of seven winless games. He said: “I can’t remember playing without the control that we normally had like that for a long time, and yet we won the game.”
In Friday’s other Championship match, Reading were held 1-1 at home by Cardiff after which the Royals manager, Veljko Paunovic, vowed that his side would keep “pounding away” at the play-off places.
After a poor and goalless first half, seventh-placed Reading dominated the second period only to squander a series of chances. Cardiff broke the deadlock three minutes from time when Kieffer Moore converted a penalty for his 17th league goal of the season. But Reading levelled in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Yakou Méïté nodded in a Sam Baldock cross.
“Of course, no one is happy with just a point today,” Paunovic said. “But it’s still one point and we will see how the other results go this weekend. We will keep pounding away. From that sideline, what I see is a great team that plays good football and never gives up.
“When Cardiff’s goal came late, we showed a really good reaction. We bounced back quickly and, once again, we showed that we never give up. I believe that we controlled the whole game.”
Reading could be without their 22-goal leading scorer Lucas João for their remaining four matches after the striker dislocated a shoulder, for the second time this season, and was taken to hospital. Paunovic said: “The last time [in September], he was back after one week. We hope that, in the best-case scenario, it will be the same this time.”
Cardiff’s play-off hopes have as good as gone after a run of only one win in eight matches. “I’m raging, that’s how I’m feeling,” the Cardiff manager, Mick McCarthy, said. “We should not have let Reading off the hook.
“We’d been terrific, we blocked stuff, we caught them on the break. Then we let the cross come in and we’re not marking. I’m disappointed for the lads because they’re raging as well.”
In League One Sammie Szmodics scored twice to move Peterborough closer to promotion in a 3-1 win over struggling Northampton at London Road. The victory puts Darren Ferguson’s second-placed side eight points clear of Sunderland in third, though the Black Cats have a game in hand.