Lucky escape for Davis

Thursday 6 December 2001

Wednesday's reserve team match against Arsenal saw Fulham lose to a youthful and talented Arsenal side. However, for Steve Kean the defeat was made all the worse after one particular challenge on Sean Davis.

Only a matter of weeks ago, young Academy prospect David Shevel was lucky to escape unscathed after a brutally high challenge from Coventry player Ysreal Zuniga. The challenge could have easily resulted in a serious injury, yet the only punishment issued by the referee was a mere yellow card.

The match against Arsenal on Wednesday evening saw Sean Davis involved in a similar scenario. After a tough tackle with Arsenal midfielder John Halls, which ultimately resulted in a Fulham free kick - Davis was subjected to a vicious two-footed challenge just outside the Arsenal penalty area from the same player.

A challenge which left Steve Kean fuming.

"If you've played the game then you'll understand the difference between a mistimed challenge and a malicious challenge. We felt that he certainly went in to hurt Sean Davis, it was the referee's decision to show him the yellow card but we felt it should have been an automatic red."

"The really annoying thing for any member of the coaching staff is when you then hear the same player shouting things like 'break him.' I asked the referee what he thought, he told me that he felt the player tried to play the ball, which I don't agree with."

"Sometimes you get little battles in the game. If it's battles of skill, you can accept that but if somebody, in our opinion, is trying to hurt another player - I don't think that's a problem that the coaching staff has to deal with. It's up to the referee to discipline each situation as he sees it, in not doing that, he actually gave their coach Eddie Niedzwiecki a problem where he had to decide whether to take the player off or not."

With reserve team games mainly aimed at further developing Academy players as well as first team regulars on their way back from injury. The fact that such dangerous challenges could go unpunished would, no doubt, raise a few eyebrows as to whether the rules of the game are being correctly enforced...