SUNDERLAND boss Martin O’Neill was forced to steel himself after seeing his side denied a Boxing Day win over Everton following a howler from Howard Webb.
Leighton Baines ensured Sunderland’s miserable run against Everton continued as he claimed a point with a disputed penalty.
The full-back blasted past keeper Keiren Westwood from 12 yards after referee Howard Webb had ruled that Leon Osman had been fouled inside the box, although claims from the home players that he had simply kicked the ground appeared to be borne out by television replays.
Baines’ effort cancelled out Jack Colback’s first senior goal for the Black Cats, a deflected 26th-minute shot.
“It’s, er, not a er, great, decision, even though, he’s a top-class referee,” he muttered slowly, his words heavy with under-statement.
O’Neill had spoken to Webb inside the stadium afterwards but their conversation was inconclusive.
“I spoke to him - he hadn’t seen the replays back like I had, so he couldn’t comment on the incident,” he explained.
“But it’s disappointing.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that when he sees it back, he’ll know he’s made a bad mistake.
“And there’s every chance that when I see him again....maybe in a year’s time....he’ll be the first to admit he got it wrong.”
O’Neill allowed his words to trail off, leaving no-one in any doubt that if such an apology proves to be forthcoming, it would be no consolation to the manager right now.
The win denied by Webb’s decision would have lifted Sunderland into 11th place overnight and provided the perfect boost for the visit of stuttering league leaders Manchester City on New Year’s Day.
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