Unhappy Ward points finger at ‘one-sided’ ref
AUDIO: Elliott Ward pointed an accusing finger at match referee Graham Scott after conceding the penalty which proved such a huge turning point on Saturday.
The Canaries had halved Cardiff's lead when Wes Hoolahan headed home, but within two minutes Ward was adjudged to have handled as team-mate Leon Barnett headed away a Jay Bothroyd cross.
Ward admitted the ball touched his hand – but as it was by his side there was no intent.
'I'm still trying to get my head around it,' he said. 'The ball was going away from the goal, I didn't even attempt to raise my arms, and probably the worst thing I was actually trying to get out of the way of the ball and it comes at such a speed. That was the only problem for me, it was hard to get out of the way.
'I am not going to lie about it, it did hit my hand, but it was no way intentional, it was no way I would have tried to put my arm up or try and actually play the ball with my hand.'
Ward believes another element crept into the official's game in front of a near full-house at Cardiff City Stadium.
'The ref, for some reason he was very one-sided today and even before my handball (Craig) Bellamy handballed it in their box. The linesman is probably 10 yards away looking at the ball and doesn't give it – maybe because of who it is and it's the home team. To me that's not fair.
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'He handballed it – I said to the ref, 'Bellamy's just handballed it', and obviously he piped up. But when I handballed it he said to me, 'yours is worse than mine'. It just proves that he did handle it. Sometimes you get the decision, but more or less if you are the away team you don't.'
Ward hardly needed any salt rubbing the wounds after admitting his culpability in Bothroyd's opener on nine minutes from a corner routine that the hosts had worked minutes earlier.
'It wasn't a great start from us, especially from myself,' said Ward. 'I think I got a little touch on the first one, which was alright, but the second one I got caught square under the ball and that's not good enough, especially when you work on things like that.
'If you are defending set-pieces you have always got a chance and unfortunately he got a jump on me and the other player got the goal.
'That was the worst thing about it, but to make it worse the penalty – and to make it even worse we didn't get enough decisions.
'There was one stage Holty (Grant Holt) got cleaned out from behind and even when the game was stopped he did nothing about it. Things like that - but he knew he didn't have a good game.
'He said to me, 'it's given and I can't change it'. Even though he kind of understood what I was saying he said he couldn't change his decision.'
Michael Chopra's goal on 12 minutes gave City a mountain to climb, but Hoolahan gave City hope and even the penalty decision didn't deter the Canaries from taking the game to Cardiff.
'Even though they had the penalty we still had chances to make it 3-2,' said Ward. 'Going in to half-time we looked more threatening. Apart from a sloppy start I think if we played a bit more defensive, like we did second half - I know the game is different – but when we did attack them we were very good.'
Ward believes there were lessons learned. 'I think the biggest thing we learn is if you go 2-0 down at a team like this it is hard to come back,' he said. 'Saying that, if you attack teams like this you can see we are very good. But for the first time today in a while defensively we weren't solid and that's more disappointing than ever because this, if we were, it would have been a great test today. Taking away the two goals it was still a sickener with the penalty. It could have been a bit more interesting if we had got that second goal, and I believe we should have got it as well, but if we had played until next week we probably still wouldn't have got the decisions.
'But we have dropped points and we are still right amongst it. We came here with no fear, every team we have played we know we can do them damage and even at 2-0 down we still looked a better threat. We lost a game and it is very disappointing as a group; individually I am disappointed with myself, but there is another big game next week and there are a lot coming up and a lot of points to pick up.'