Season could still have been alive

STEVE Bennett will forever be known as the man who cost Ipswich Town a small fortune by denying them a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals.His unjust sending off of George O'Callaghan in first half stoppage time of Saturday's fifth round 1-0 defeat at Premiership Watford will make the Kent official an unwelcome visitor to future Town games.

By Elvin King

STEVE Bennett will forever be known as the man who cost Ipswich Town a small fortune by denying them a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

His unjust sending off of George O'Callaghan in first half stoppage time of Saturday's fifth round 1-0 defeat at Premiership Watford will make the Kent official an unwelcome visitor to future Town games.

It can - and will - be rightly argued that he cost the Portman Road-based club several hundred thousand pounds.


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With a full complement of players for the full 90 minutes Ipswich would have stood a much better chance of gaining at least a replay.

They fought valiantly with ten men, and it was not until the final three minutes that Damien Francis found the net for the Hornets after Town had dominated the match.

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A 25,000 attendance for the replay would have swelled the Ipswich coffers considerably, even taking into account the fact they under FA rules they only pocket one third of the profit.

The fact that the game could have attracted a lucrative live television contract - and quite feasibly a passage into the last eight and even semi-finals with Plymouth earmarked as quarter-final opposition - only adds to the weight of bad feeling currently felt in this neck of the woods towards Bennett.

O'Callaghan was exonerated from any wrongdoing by an independent appeals committee held by the Football Association yesterday.

His flick out at Dan Shittu after they tumbled to the floor was no more than a gesture and seen as such by the panel.

Bennett was not slow in theatrically flourishing a red card above the head of a bemused O'Callaghan.

Any doubts about the legality of the decision at the time were dispelled on seeing a replay, and Bennett's only saving grace is that he only had one look at the incident before having to act.

Ipswich played as well without O'Callaghan as they did with him, but the way he had performed in the opening 45 minutes suggests that Ipswich would have stood a much better chance of getting a result without Bennett sending him for an early bath. The season could still be alive but for Bennett.

n George O'Callaghan is not the first Town player to have a red card rescinded. The same thing happened to Sito Castro in the home defeat against Norwich last season.

n Town striker Darryl Knights has joined Yeovil Town on loan until the end of the season. The 18-year-old has been on trial at Huish Park for the last fortnight.

Winger Martin Brittain is already with the Glovers for the remainder of 2006/7, while released academy defender Luke Webster is on trial with the League One club.

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