Lee hits back at his critics

ALAN Lee today hit back at his critics after getting a red card on Saturday that rules him out of tomorrow's Championship match at Preston North End.Ipswich Town's 14-goal leading scorer came under fire from his manager and from supporters after collecting two avoidable yellow cards in the 2-0 home defeat by lowly Southend United.

By Elvin King

ALAN Lee today hit back at his critics after getting a red card on Saturday that rules him out of tomorrow's Championship match at Preston North End.

Ipswich Town's 14-goal leading scorer came under fire from his manager and from supporters after collecting two avoidable yellow cards in the 2-0 home defeat by lowly Southend United.

“The referee was an absolute disgrace,” said the 28-year-old. “If he apologises to me after seeing a tape of the game my opinion of him will improve, but only slightly.”

Lee made the lonely walk back to the dressing room after 77 minutes to rule out any chance of a Town comeback after being two goals down to their Essex visitors at the interval.

He will sit out tomorrow's match, a situation made even more unpalatable by a hamstring injury that has effectively ended Francis Jeffers' stay with Town and doubts about the fitness of fellow striker Jonathan Walters.

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Referring to his first booking while Southend were celebrating their opening goal, Lee said: “I took advantage of the break in play to calmly ask the referee why he had not earlier given us a clear penalty when I had my legs swiped from under me by a defender.

“He said that he should have booked me for diving - and that he was going to do it now!

“And when the ball was floated in from a free-kick I was pushed off balance from behind as I challenged with two others. The handball was accidental.

“The tape clearly shows this.

“Turning down an obvious penalty claim turned the game.

“Their defender missed me with his legs, but he brought me down when his body came across me.

“It was a massive decision, as the first goal was always going to be the most vital in a derby game.

“We were playing okay and we controlled the second half.”

Atkinson is a Premier League referee who took charge of the Liverpool versus Manchester United game the previous weekend.

Town manager Jim Magilton has no sympathy with Lee, saying: “I have not spoken to Alan as I have nothing to say to him.

“It was idiotic and naive from one of our senior players.

“It was sheer stupidity. In the heat of battle you are still responsible for your actions. I was one of the most passionate players, but you have to control yourselves.”

Lee is the sixth Town player to be sent off this season although George O'Callaghan had his red card rescinded.

Lee has no facility to appeal, but he will be eligible to face Luton at Kenilworth Road on Saturday.

Have you sympathy with Alan Lee? Have your say, e-mail starsport@eveningstar.co.uk or write to Sports Department, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN. Please include your full name and address.

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