Winger reacts to bizarre penalty decision
Exeter City winger David Wheeler was left completely in the lurch when the decision was taken by referee Andy D’Urso to overturn his initial ruling, which had seen a penalty given in City’s favour when Morecambe defender man Stewart Drummond had lunged in against the Grecians midfielder in the area.
After the official initially pointed to the spot, a fracas ensued as the scenes turned ugly which eventually saw Shrimpers winger Jamie Devitt shown a straight red card. Much to the bemusement of the St James Park faithful, the referee overturned the decision on the advice of his assistant despite appearing to be well-placed to make a clear call.
Almost three minutes went by while the heated discussions went on and while John O’Flynn – on spot-kick duty – waited patiently for the chance to net a winner from 12 yards.
But the Irishman’s chance never came – and Wheeler, who wasn’t consulted on the matter, was amongst the last to be informed that the decision was overturned. It was only when the referee brandished the yellow and gave a free-kick the other way for simulation that it hit home.
“I didn’t realise for a long time – I thought they were trying to work out which one of their players to send off, because there must have been two or three that deserved to be,” he explained. “It wasn’t until just before the referee booked me that I realised.
“Coming from non-League, I’ve obviously had some very bizarre decisions – too many to name really. But for this to come in the final minute, and for him to be pushed into that decision, was really surprising.
“The ball had been bouncing around in the box and it was played into me, and I pushed it through to get some space to get a shot off, and the defender has lunged across and caught me as I pushed it away, and I’ve gone down.
“The ref gave a penalty almost straight away, and then suddenly I had about four or five players on me – one put his head to mine and pushed me in the face, and I think that has changed his mind.”
The midfielder was keen to take numerous positives from the performance though and to move on swiftly to the next fixture, which is against Rochdale on Saturday at St James Park.
City are now unbeaten in five, and Wheeler believes the performance levels at Exeter are on the up in recent weeks.
“The level of our play has lifted a hell of a lot in the past few weeks,” he continued. “The atmosphere in our team is really high at the moment, and I think the crowd recognise that our performances have been better than earlier in the season.
“So long as we maintain that, we won’t have any problems on Saturday against Rochdale.”