'I just think it’s bad refereeing' - Sunderland boss Lee Johnson blasts penalty call in Fleetwood Town draw

Lee Johnson blasted the decision to award Fleetwood Town a last-minute penalty at Highbury, but admitted his frustration with his side for allowing them back into the game.

Lee Johnson at Highbury
Lee Johnson at Highbury

Three vital points looked to be heading to Wearside when Aiden McGeady’s penalty extended Sunderland’s lead with just over ten minutes to play.

But lax defending allowed Callum Morton to reduce the deficit within minutes, and Ged Garner was able to salvage a point with seconds left when Bailey Wright was ruled to have committed a foul in the box.

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Johnson labelled the decision a ‘shambles’ but said it was a lesson in why his side have to be more ruthless when leading in games.

“We've got to expect it,” Johnson said.

“I've said it before but you've got to score three goals, because the opposition are good enough to produce a bit of magic and you've got to be aware that you can give up a goal every game from bad refereeing decisions.

“That was the message at the start of the game, at half time and at the end of the game.

“It's difficult to take because we've put our bodies on the line and scored two good goals, but is what it is.

“The first goal we conceded was a poor one, from our perspective.

“We made a couple of mistakes and we'd had a couple of warnings with those in to out runs that they'd made. We've left a slot and they've capitalised. That one was really disappointing because at that point we'd probably demoralised them enough to go and have control.

“If anything, that's the bit I'm angry about.

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“But I'll be watching that referee's games in the next few weeks.

“Because he's set a precedent for himself. If we're talking 10 is a clothesline, the level of contact there is 0.5. It happens every cross, every corner.

“I just think it’s bad refereeing,” he added.

"I just think that he couldn’t wait to give it. He’s obviously given the foul at the other end, but they were very different. One was a bear hug where he was facing away from the ball, and in the other one, they’re both facing the ball, both facing the goal, and there is contact in boxes.

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"I’ll look at his next six games, and every time there’s a corner and somebody blocks someone or every time there’s half an inch of a short pull, he’d better give it. That’s the precedent he’s set himself. All we have the power to do is downgrade on the marks, and hopefully they learn from it.”

Sunderland looked to have secured the points when Thorben Hoffmann made a stunning late save from Garner, flying to his left to make the save from a corner.

The German impressed throughout and that was one of the key positives for Johnson on an ultimately disappointing afternoon.

"I thought he [Hoffman] was very good, both with his feet in terms of picking out the spare player and also with two or three big saves and two or three big contacts from crosses,” he said.