Paul Heckingbottom lauds ‘big three points’ as Sheffield United break duck

By Sports Desk November 04, 2023

Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom joked he would be in prison if his side had not been awarded a last-gasp penalty which helped them finally break their Premier League duck with a 2-1 victory over Wolves.

The Blades won at the 11th attempt when Oliver Norwood smashed home from 12 yards in the 10th minute of time added on after Fabio Silva fouled George Baldock, a decision which Wolves boss Gary O’Neil described as “absolutely crazy”.

It provided a moment of relief for the hosts after Cameron Archer’s excellent opener had been cancelled out by Jean-Ricner Bellegarde’s deflected effort in the 89th minute as their campaign finally kickstarted.

Heckingbottom said: “I don’t think you’d have seen me if we hadn’t been given that penalty, I might be in prison somewhere.

“I have not seen it but the people who have seen have said because there was no contact there was no way it was going to be overturned. It’s one of those where the ref makes the call and there is not enough to overturn the decision.

“The dramatic nature of it makes victory feel even sweeter but it would have been harsh had we not won, especially after the way we performed in the second half.

“It’s a tough, tough league and there are going to be games where we are not in them, where the opposition take it away from us.

“It’s not a walk in the park this league but I thought we were dominant in the second half and for me deserved the win.

“We managed the game really well, it’s a big win, a big three points. A good performance.”

It was the second week in a row where Wolves felt they were on the wrong end of a penalty decision after a controversial incident in last weekend’s draw with Newcastle.

Boss O’Neil watched the incident again after the match with referee Rob Jones, who stood by his decision.

“It is not a penalty, hardly any contact. It is a tough one to discuss, it is another terrible decision,” O’Neil moaned.

“I don’t understand why he feels the need to give it, pause, take your time, it’s not about you. If you have made a clear and obvious error there, VAR will tell you after.

“I’ve been in with him, and he still thinks it’s a penalty, he still says there is contact. The only contact I can see is maybe Fabio’s shinpad with Baldock’s calf, like a graze.

“Baldock is already on his way down. I am sitting there watching it with him and he still says it is a penalty which tells me we are in a pretty bad spot because that is never, ever a penalty.

“If you give a foul for that contact there would be one million fouls in the 90 minutes. Because of the wording we use VAR can’t intervene because it is not deemed clear and obvious. Craziness.

“I don’t expect anything, we didn’t get an apology last week and apologies don’t help me. We are six points down maybe from refereeing decisions.

“I have said a million times we need to be better so decision’s don’t affect us as much but the facts are they have had a big impact on our points total.

“A big impact on where we are in the league, the feel of the place, has an impact on how well I am deemed to have done as a new manager arriving at Wolves, 12 points is a big difference to 18.

“To sit and have a conversation with the referee and him still think that is a penalty is absolutely crazy. I am worried about it at the minute, they are in a bad spot and it seems to be going against us.”

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