Sam Allardyce has bemoaned two controversial refereeing decisions which he believe cost Crystal Palace from obtaining a result in their relegation battle against Burnley.
Palace became the first Premier League team to lose a home match to Burnley since May 2015, with goals from Ashley Barnes and substitute Andre Gray lifting Sean Dyche’s side eight points clear of the drop-zone.
That’s despite enjoying significantly less possession than the home side as well as taking far fewer shots on goal, although Allardyce said in his post-match press conference that two officiating decisions were what really cost his side.
Shortly after conceding the first goal, an inch-perfect through-ball from Jason Puncheon sent Wilfred Zara haring clear on goal, only for the forward to be upended by Burnley’s goalkeeper, Tom Heaton.
A clear foul, Heaton would have had to have been sent-off for a professional foul by referee Bobby Madley, only to be spared by the linesman’s flag. However, television replays showed that Zaha was comfortably onside at the time of the pass.
“It was the turning point of the match when Wilfred Zaha went through and he’s given offside when he wasn’t,” Allardyce said.
“And it’s not even as though he’s onside by a few inches, it’s a yard. That’s the big turning point, when the assistant referee puts his flag up just before their goalkeeper upends Zaha, and that’s him sent-off and them down to ten men. But I can’t control that.”
Allardyce also felt aggrieved that his side were not given a penalty when Jon Flanagan appeared to trip Zaha in the box, when the game was still in the balance at 1-0.
“We could have had a penalty, too, when Zaha went down in the box in the second-half,” Allardyce added.
“So, no, I’m not sure today, with the referee. I’m not sure he would give us anything, but certainly not something inside the box. The lad tackled him from behind and didn’t make any contact with the ball, so for me it is 100 per cent a penalty.
“The referee may disagree but I’ve had a look at the replay and it’s a penalty.”
However, Allardyce refused to blame his side’s defeat completely on the referee, instead singling out his defence for criticism.
Palace desperately missed the likes of Mamadou Sakho, Scott Dann and James Tomkins, with two defensive errors leading directly to Burnley’s goals.
The 2-0 loss leaves Palace in 16th, while a win for Swansea against Manchester United on Sunday will see the gap between Allardyce’s side and the relegation zone shrink to just four points.
“The disappointing thing for me today was the two goals that we gave away, and how easy we made it for the opposition to score,” he said. “The first-half we were not at it and we were nervous because we conceded that goal.
“But we’ve had a big week and we’ve already got three points this week, and I don’t think that three points from this week is a bad total considering who we have played: Liverpool away, Tottenham and now Burnley. It tells you what the Premier League is all about: we beat Liverpool and Burnley beat us.
Allardyce also pledged that any supporter discovered to have thrown a missile onto the Selhurst Park pitch would be harshly dealt with by the club.
Burnley midfielder James Tarkowski was struck by a lighter thrown from the front of the Holmesdale Road Stand, while celebrating Ashley Barnes’s opening goal.
“It’s very disappointing if that is the case and they will be dealt with by the club,” Allardyce said. “Obviously, if there are any CCTV pictures or cameras to pick him out they will be dealt with: we do not want to see that at any match.”