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Football: Jewell fury as ref sends off wrong man De Vos; Sunderland 1 Wigan 1.

Byline: SIMON BIRD

WIGAN boss Paul Jewell claimed referee Ray Olivier sent off the wrong defender as his goal-scorer Jason De Vos and Julio Arca of Sunderland saw red on a night of chaos at the Stadium of Light.

Olivier sent Black Cats boss Mick McCarthy into a finger- wagging rage as Arca was wrongly dismissed for a dive on half-time when replays showed there was contact in the tackle that bought him down.

The visitors took a 69th-minute lead when De Vos headed Andy Liddell's corner past a stranded Mart Poom, but the match erupted in controversy again ten minutes before full-time.

Ten-man Sunderland put up a brave fight and Tommy Smith wriggled free in the box only to be felled to hand the Wearsiders a penalty.

De Vos was sent off for the foul that was actually committed by fellow defender Ian Breckin.

On-loan winger Stewart Downing stepped up to coolly slot home to earn draw specialists Sunderland another point.

But it was Olivier's dramatic performance that came under scrutiny from both bosses. Wigan manager Jewell, who has just served a touchline ban for after-match comments, said: "We are over the moon when a ref gets it right these days so it is no surprise.

"I get into trouble for telling the ref he has got it wrong. We fought hard and scrapped for those points but you better ask Stevie Wonder what the ref saw for our sending off. I am disappointed in that. He tried to even it up.

"These refs have never been in front of a crowd before and sometimes it is difficult to see why they are. Sunderland kept going but we didn't use our heads enough. We played with our hearts and went for a second.

"It is people's livelihoods at stake here. If I get it wrong I get the sack, if the players get it wrong they get dropped, but I bet the ref has got a game on Saturday."

McCarthy said: "Arca's was never a sending off and I have seen it on the video. I have asked the ref to look at it. If it is not rescinded there is something seriously, seriously wrong with the game.

"He was in a great position to see it. He only caught both his legs and missed the ball. I am nearly skint so had better shut up. I can't afford the fine.

"The ref has been to see me and he still assures me it was a sending off. Apart from that he sent the wrong one off for them. The game was a good scrap."

The match was simmering towards its dramatic conclusion as early as the 13th minute. Argentine left-back Arca was first booked for an unnecessary retaliation after a shove on Liddell.

Then seconds before the end of the first-half, Arca was at it again when Olivier ruled he dived under the challenge from Jimmy Bullard well outside the area.

The decision sparked a protest from McCarthy's men, with the manager himself using his height advantage to muscle in close and vent his anger as the teams walked off for half-time.

McCarthy and Arca both claimed slow motion replays showed there was contact on the tackle he was judged to have dived over.

It remains to be seen if McCarthy's protests will earn him a punishment from the FA but it was Arca's second sending off of the season following his dismissal at Stoke.

The controversy livened up a dour match with little quality on display considering this was a battle between promotion chasing sides, watched by a paltry 22,167 fans at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland have now only won one in six, including five stalemates.

CAPTION(S):

PAIN: De Vos cannot believe he has been shown the red card; JOY: De Vos puts Wigan ahead
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 3, 2003
Words:641
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