REFEREES have been the centre of attention in Sunderland’s last two games.
But whereas man-in-black Mike Dean came in for withering sarcasm from Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, Gus Poyet’s praise for Phil Dowd was genuine and fulsome after the Staffordshire official awarded a crucial penalty in Sunderland’s 4-0 win over Cardiff City yesterday.
Dowd had a big call to make on the stroke of half-time as Juan Cala pulled back Connor Wickham as the striker burst into the area.
Cala was last man and Dowd could have instantly blown for a penalty and sending off at that moment but decided to play the advantage and let the striker get his shot off.
Wickham was unbalanced by Cala then obstructed by City keeper David Marshall before his shot was blocked.
But having played the advantage, Dowd called play back, red-carded Cala and pointed to the spot.
As far as Poyet was concerned it was the perfect way to handle the situation - an approach which will encourage players not to go down in the area under the slightest of challenges.
The Black Cats boss said: “If you ask me, I would have to say that I think it is the best decision I have ever seen by a referee; the bravest I have ever seen.”
“Phil Dowd noticed what had happened but he played the advantage so that Connor Wickham could get his shot away.
“And then when that did not happen, he gives us the penalty and the sending off.
“It was a big call by the referee and the right one.”