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Coleman angry at 'smug' referee

Steve Bennett looks on as Alex and Drogba lie injured
Coleman said Bennett was "very friendly" towards Chelsea's players

Coventry boss Chris Coleman criticised referee Steve Bennett's performance in his side's 2-0 FA Cup defeat by Chelsea and described him as "smug" afterwards.

Coleman claimed Bennett was "very friendly" towards some of the Chelsea players during the quarter-final tie.

"I was disappointed with him, as were my players - his attitude towards us and towards them," Coleman said.

"That is not why we lost but he was smug towards us, the way he was talking to my players, my senior players."

Coleman is not the first manager to complain about the relationship some referees have with players from big clubs.


West Brom boss Tony Mowbray spoke out after his side's Premier League defeat by Manchester United on 29 January.

And, after seeing Stoke beaten by Sunderland on 7 February, Potters manager Tony Pulis claimed some referees punish smaller clubs more harshly.

Coleman was particularly unhappy with Chelsea's second goal, which came in a breakaway move that ended when Alex - who had just been allowed back on to the pitch following an injury - fired home.

"For the second goal Chelsea had two players off the pitch for treatment," Coleman explained. "You are not supposed to wave them back on until you see where the ball is going to bounce and so they gain no advantage.

"You can't wave them back on in a situation like that and who scores the goal - Alex."

Coleman admitted his side were second best against the Blues but felt they made things difficult for themselves with the mistake by Scott Dann that allowed Didier Drogba in to score Chelsea's opener.

"Chelsea paid us a compliment by fielding such a strong side," Coleman added. "I couldn't ask any more from my players but we were disappointed with the first goal we gave to Drogba.

"We don't need to give them any help. They are good enough to create their own goals."

Chelsea players celebrate their opening goal
Drogba raced to the touchline to celebrate his goal with Hiddink

Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink insisted his preparations for the game were not affected by the midweek incident involving England defender Ashley Cole, who was given a fixed penalty fine by police after being arrested for being drunk and disorderly in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Hiddink said: "We had one little thing to cope with before the match but it did not dominate what is happening at Chelsea.

"Yesterday [Friday] we had this one issue but it was important that it did not cause friction in the team."

The Dutchman felt his side fully deserved their win, stating: "It is not easy with the way Coventry play with the long balls up to their strikers but we managed to control them and play well.

"We scored a beautiful first goal although we were a bit sloppy when scoring a second goal after playing so well in the first half."

Hiddink also praised Drogba, adding: "From the first day I have seen him, he has been a guy who has been working very hard.

"I don't want to judge what went on before. I didn't have to force him but he has been doing extra training and it's paying off."

see also
Live text - FA Cup & Premier League
07 Mar 09 |  FA Cup
Coventry 0-2 Chelsea
07 Mar 09 |  FA Cup
Saturday's football photos
07 Mar 09 |  Football
Hiddink delivers warning to Cole
06 Mar 09 |  Chelsea
Cole 'sorry' over disorder arrest
05 Mar 09 |  London
Footballer Ashley Cole arrested
05 Mar 09 |  London
Mowbray irritated by 'pally' refs
29 Jan 09 |  Football
Pulis anger at unequal treatment
07 Feb 09 |  Stoke

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