Allardyce blames referee for cup exit

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Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce pointed an accusing finger at referee Martin Atkinson following his side's failure to reach the Carling Cup final.

With Blackburn 2-0 up, Atkinson then failed to spot a push from Gabriel Agbonlahor on captain Ryan Nelsen, allowing former Rovers defender Stephen Warnock to rifle the home side level. From that moment the momentum shifted Villa's way, and when James Milner scored from the spot 10 minutes later after Chris Samba was dismissed for a foul on Agbonlahor, the writing was on the wall for Blackburn who went on to lose 6-4 on the night and 7-4 on aggregate.

"It's a bit difficult to take, scoring four goals and not getting through to the final," reflected Allardyce.

"We were in complete control of the game, and if anybody was going to score again it was us.

"But then the referee allows a blatant foul on Ryan Nelsen to go unpunished, and at this level you have to make sure the referee gets those decisions right.

"We are out of a cup final because of that decision perhaps. It is a major decision that has stopped us having the chance to go to Wembley.

"Whatever anybody might say, we were put in a position we should not have been put in.

"It lifted the crowd, it lifted Villa because they were playing very poorly, and then they are on their game.

"You could look at the fourth goal and say Agbonlahor had two arms on it and deflected it into the net for 4-2.

"Everybody thinks it's over, we're down to 10 men anyway, but then we managed to get back to 5-4.

"But the major part of us not getting through to the final is the referee, no question about it.

"Unfortunately, we have to suffer that. There's nothing we can do about it and we can't go to where we want to go, which is Wembley, and he is the major factor."

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