McLeish fury at penalty

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Birmingham manager Alex McLeish lamented a "ludicrous" decision from referee Lee Mason which cost his side dearly as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat at fellow Coca-Cola Championship promotion hopefuls Sheffield United.

Lancashire official Mason pointed to the penalty spot nine minutes from time after on-loan Blades striker Craig Beattie went down under an innocuous-looking challenge from Stephen Carr and Radhi Jaidi, and the spot-kick was coolly dispatched by David Cotterill to give the hosts all three points.

McLeish said: "I haven't seen the offside decision, but there is nobody that I've spoken to that said it wasn't, so I have to take their word for that. But I saw the penalty decision, which was absolutely ludicrous, if that's a penalty then the referee has got to give 20 penalties in a game."

Blues, who would have gone level on points with leaders Wolves with a victory, have now won only two of their last 10 games but looked to be on course for a valuable point when Chris Morgan scored an own goal 17 minutes from time.

Danny Webber had put United in front just before half-time, firing home from close range after Darius Henderson headed the ball into his path.

Webber's strike was also controversial, with Henderson appearing to be offside when the ball was crossed from the left.

"The officials have had a bad day, there has got to be better quality than that from officials, just the same as you ask for better quality from some of the players," added McLeish.

"I've not been to see him (Mason), but one of my coaches has. I thought I'd better stay away from him in case I said anything I regretted.

"At this level, in front of the Sky cameras, there is no hiding place for me and for the officials and they didn't do their job correctly.

"I think it was Craig Beattie who made a tumbling gesture that maybe attracted the referee, so fair play to Craig, it was Carr I think the award was given against but it's such a big decision to give in a game of this magnitude, we feel hard done by, we've had one penalty this season and some teams have had 15 or 16. It's unbelievable."

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Stephen Carr
Danny Webber
Darius Henderson
Radhi Jaidi
Craig Beattie
Sheffield United
Wolverhampton Wanderers
David Cotterill
Chris Morgan

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