Baffled boss Bruce says penalty decision ‘robbed’ Hull players of well-earned point

STEVE BRUCE last night blasted the “joke” decision that condemned Hull City to defeat against Tottenham Hotspur.

Tottenham's Roberto Soldado scores the winning goal from the penalty spot during the Barclays Premier League match at White Hart Lane, London.

The Tigers, despite missing a host of first-choice players, seemed on course for a deserved point from a goalless draw until referee Michael Oliver awarded a controversial 79th-minute penalty.

Roberto Soldado subsequently converted from the spot, but Bruce was fuming with Oliver for judging Ahmed Elmohamady to have handled a cross from Jan Vertongen.

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Hull’s manager said: “I hope you write it because I can’t say it. It is an absolute joke decision. It hits his (Elmohamady) leg, for a start, and then goes up and hits his arms.

“How can you give a penalty in that situation? We have had directives, meetings, more nonsense. They (referees) are getting assessed and they give decisions like that.

“It just baffles me. You have to ask would we have got it. In my opinion, it is not right, not for the stakes we are playing at.

”You have a big game at White Hart Lane and he has robbed the players of a well-earned point. I spoke to him after the game, but what difference does it make?

“You don’t grill him, like you (in the media) grill me, and he gets away with it. What am I supposed to say when they ask me on a Monday morning? He totally messed up. If I kept making decisions like that I would get the sack.”

Bruce’s frustration was understandable after a battling display from his side failed to brings its deserved reward. Hull do, though, have an instant opportunity to avenge the defeat with the two clubs again meeting at White Hart Lane on Wednesday in the Capital One Cup.

Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas confirmed after his side’s 1-0 win that he will make several changes. Bruce, too, has rotated his squad in the competition this season, but this time his changes may be limited by a lack of available players.

Abdoulaye Faye’s calf injury late in the week meant the Tigers manager was forced into making six changes from the side beaten at Everton the previous weekend.

One player who could be available is Matty Fryatt, whose initial loan spell with Sheffield Wednesday ended after the weekend draw at Barnsley.

The Owls are keen to keep the former Leicester striker and Bruce will make a decision today.

As for his side’s performance at White Hart Lane yesterday, Bruce replied: “To make six changes and go down like that is disappointing. I don’t mind getting beat fair and square, it’s part of the game. They have all tried manfully to get something here and in my opinion they should have done.

“There are players who haven’t played for weeks and they put in a great performance.

On the penalty award, Villas-Boas said: “Sometimes we have been given some lucky penalties. It was a difficult decision for the ref and it will look harsh for Steve, but it fell our way. The ball is stopped from going forward and it collides (with) the hand of Elmohamady. It comes off his feet to his hands, but it stopped the ball getting into the box, when we have men in the box to finish that action. If he hasn’t given that it would probably have been okay. It was a difficult decision.”

Match report and more pictures: Page 5.