Kettering boss blasts the referee and "idiots" ITV after losing to Fulham
Published 00:00 26/01/09 By By Neil McLeman
Kettering chairman Imraan Ladak accused Mike Riley of costing his non-league side £200,000 after the FIFA ref "bottled out" of sending off Fulham defender Brede Hangeland.
And he labelled ITV "idiots" for ignoring this cracking FA Cup tie where his Blue Square Premier side came within three minutes of forcing a replay against the Premier League millionaires.
Mark Cooper's side had fully deserved their second equaliser when Craig Westcarr converted an83rd-minute penalty to raise the Rockingham Road decibel count to rock-concert levels.
But Hangeland's foul on the former Nottingham Forest striker eight yards out had clearly deprived him of a goalscoring opportunity - and the Norwegian should have seen red.
Instead he remained on the pitch as Fulham's superior fitness paid off in the final minutes as they preserved the Premier League's record of never losing to a non-league side. But Ladek showed he can ref-bash with the best of them by slating Riley for favouring the big team - and costing his team a fortune.
"It was an incredible performance," said the 30-year-old chairman. "We deserved to win.
I hate to say it but if Mike Riley hadn't bottled it we wouldn't have lost the game. We wouldn't have lost against 10 men.
"He's the last man and it's a red card and it's unfortunate that the game has swung on the referee's decision.
"I don't mean to sound negative but everyone here knows that's a penalty and that's a red card.
"A replay would have been worth over £200,000 to us.
Setanta would have put us on TV, that's £80,000, plus the game, which would have been about £120,000, and you never know what else after that. We could have put it towards our new stadium which we desperately need to build. We could have added a few more players to help us towards the play-offs. We could have extended our lease."
Westcarr agreed. "I thought he should have been sent off," he said. "I thought he was the last man. He's pulled me down. He had his arms all over me." Yet in a game of thrills and spills, the luck was not all one way. After Simon Davies had given Fulham a 12th-minute lead with ablistering volley, Westcarr was fortunate to win a soft free-kick on the edge of the box before seeing his shot deflect home off Zoltan Gera.
Stand-in skipper John Dempster missed the best of Kettering's chances after the break before Fulham sub Danny Murphy reimposed order after 77 minutes with another deflected shot.
And after the penalty, Andy Johnson and sub Bobby Zamora - with only his second goal for Fulham - settled the tie with two clinical finishes.
"The scoreline doesn't reflect the way the lads played today," said Kettering defender Exodus Geohaghan. "In the second half we really put them under pressure and we could have been out of sight - we had three clear-cut chances we would have put away on another day."
Westcarr added: ""It was just down to concentration in the last five minutes, not fitness or anything. The third is a spawny goal and the timing killed us."
Fulham's former England midfielder Murphy admitted: "Granted we didn't perform to our maximum but I think it is right to give them credit rather than talk about ourselves because they were magnificent."
But the last word goes to Ladak, the millionaire who gave Paul Gascoigne the manager's job in 2005 and whose team have given free advertising to charities on their shirts. The current kit says: Fund Palestinian Aid.
Both ITV and Setanta declined toshow this tie live - and Ladak repeated his original argument that they had made the wrong choice. "It shows ITV what a terrible mistake they made and what idiots they are," declared the Milton Keynes-based businessman.
"I've been quiet through the build up because I didn't want to overshadow it and take anything away from the team.
"But ITV didn't want to put this on TV and they got what they deserved. They missed out on the game of the season."
A replay would have been worth over £200,000 to us. We could have put it towards a new stadium IMRAAN LADAK
Kettering Town : Harper 6, Eaden 7, Geohaghan 8, Dempster 7, Jaszczun 6 (Potter 71,5), Bennett 6, Boucaud 8, Solkhon 7, Richard Graham 6(Marna 89), Westcarr 8, Seddon 7 (Beardsley 73,2).
Goals: Westcarr 36, 83 pen
Fulham : Schwarzer 8, Stoor 6, Hangeland 7, Hughes 7, Konchesky 6, Davies 7, Andreasen 6, Etuhu 5 (Murphy 69,7), Gera 5 (Zamora 69, 5), Johnson 7, Dempsey 8. Goals: Davies 12, Murphy 77, Johnson 87, Zamora 88.
: Mike Riley
Attendance : 5,406
MAN OF THE MATCH Andre Boucaud (KETTERING) 8 The Trinidad and Tobago international ran the midfield
VILLAIN OF THE MATCH Dickson Etuhu (FULHAM) 5 Failed to fill Jimmy Bullard's boots and needed to be replaced
ANORAK Kettering are 92 places below Fulham in the league's pyramid system
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