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Appleton in 'cheap shots' claim
Published : 11 Mar 2013 06:47:08
Blackburn manager Michael Appleton accused Millwall of taking "cheap shots" at his players after they emerged battered and bruised from the goalless FA Cup quarter-final at The Den.
Scott Dann had his head bandaged after being caught by Rob Hulse's elbow and he was clattered in the head again by Millwall defender Danny Shittu. Referee Martin Atkinson dished out seven yellow cards in total with one of the worst offences committed by Shane Lowry, who sent David Bentley flying up in the air with a hefty tackle in the second half.
Bradley Orr came on in the first half for Adam Henley after he suffered an injury, but he himself had to be replaced 12 minutes later with a suspected broken rib following a challenge with Shittu. "There were a lot of tackles flying around and a couple of cheap shots going on out there, which is disappointing," Appleton said.
"Adam looks as if he has done his hamstring again, which is disappointing. Brad might have cracked a rib. He is really struggling with his breathing at the minute and is in a lot of pain. He is taking a lot of pain killers and we will get him scanned and X-rayed as soon as possible."
Appleton thinks Wednesday's replay will not be as physical, if the game is officiated by a "strong referee".
"As long as we get a strong referee on Wednesday I don't see there being any problem," Appleton said. "There were a few arms flailing but that is part and parcel of the game."
Millwall hit back at Appleton's claims, insisting they were not overly physical. Manager Kenny Jackett said: "Cheap shots? I don't think that was the case. I don't think that was my players at all."
Lions midfielder Jack Smith reacted angrily to Appleton's comments. He said: "I didn't see any cheap shots. They seemed to fall over if we breathed on them."
Millwall had a few decent chances, but they were unable to beat Jake Kean in a match that was devoid of any real quality. Andy Keogh struck a post in the first half, Hulse missed a sitter from six yards after the break, and frontman Dany N'Guessan was poor throughout.
"Goalscoring has been a problem for us in 2013," Millwall boss Jackett said. "The win was there for us. It is frustrating. In 2012 it wasn't a problem for us, but I think (this game) showed that when we do get on top of sides, we need to score and we didn't. There was no lack of passion from the players, but we didn't finish. It's something that we need to improve."