Yellow card for referee

 

Newcastle United boss Kenny Dalglish blasted referee Peter Jones after Manchester United stretched their lead at the top of the Premiership to four points with a 1-0 win at St James's Park.

Jones booked seven players - four of them from Newcastle - in an often ill-tempered match decided by Andy Cole's 66th-minute header, his 16th goal of the season.

And Dalglish, whose side are now 17 points adrift of the champions, fumed: "It's a difficult enough job for the referee without us being over critical, but I think he was the worst person on the pitch.

"I think you have to look at the referee and obviously you've got to look at some of the reactions of the players when they're tackled.

"It's one thing to have bookings, it's another thing to have them justified.

"Other than that, it was a good game. The lads never let the pace of the game drop in any way, shape or form. If there had been a decent referee, the game would have been even more entertaining."

Newcastle had three clear-cut chances to score, but Peter Schmeichel saved headers from John Barnes in the first half and Stuart Pearce in the second, before Faustino Asprilla's attempt to chip the 'keeper in injury time sailed over the bar.

Although Newcastle are so far behind United, a defiant Dalglish insisted the Magpies still had a chance at title glory.

"I'm not very good at maths, but I know there's a lot of points to play for," Dalglish added.

"But you have to hold up your hat to Alex Ferguson and his team. They've come over here and got a result.

"Obviously we've passed our comment about the referee, but that's only because we've been asked and that's how we feel about it.

"But you also have to pay credit to them. It would be a shame if the referee gets the credit tomorrow morning because Manchester United deserved it, and we deserved it as well."

United boss Alex Ferguson refused to be drawn into a debate about the referee, but commented: "I was praising him all week, saying he was one of the up-and-coming ones, but I think I'll reassess that."

The United boss admitted his side were fortunate to have won after a below-par performance.

"We have got three points which we didn't really deserve and I think we can play better than that," he said.

"But it's difficult here, they get a lot of decisions and things like that."