Tottenham star Gareth Bale has pleaded with referees to give him a break after being booked for diving once again at Sunderland.
The 23-year-old Welshman was yellow-carded nine minutes from time in his side's 2-1 victory at the Stadium of Light after going down under Craig Gardner's challenge. Referee Martin Atkinson was quick to rule that he had gone to ground unprompted, but replays suggested there had been contact and Bale later pleaded his innocence.
He told Sky Sports 2: "It's the same thing every time - it's the third time this season I've been clipped. There is nothing I can do about it - the referees have to look a bit closer. If I get contact there, it is a penalty or free-kick."
Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas was quick to leap to the defence of his player, and while admitting some of his previous booking have been warranted, insisted he had been hard done to on Wearside.
Villas-Boas said: "It's difficult for the referees, there's no question about it, but today was a big mistake.
"Sometimes we have to give a little bit of comfort and credit to the player because he is being chased now and it's a little bit unfair what he is going through, particularly because he misses a game when he was going to be the clear-out for the yellow cards.
"It's just a consequence of his pace, his ability his skill. People don't want to stop him in various different ways, sometimes they do it in a proper way, sometimes they have to foul. I think he understands, as I was saying, that it's difficult for the refs to judge, but today was a mistake and the team is penalised for the game against Reading."
Opposite number Martin O'Neill had no complaints about the result despite seeing his side take the lead.
He said: "We played with a lot of commitment and a lot of heart. We got ourselves in front just before half-time and it was obviously disappointing to concede two goals within two minutes.
"It knocked us back and while we were trying to press, Tottenham obviously had chances to make it three, but right until the end, we kept going, so I couldn't fault the commitment of the team at all."