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Fletcher feels sympathy for McAuley

23 March 2015

Northern Ireland international wrongly dismissed at the Etihad

ALBION skipper Darren Fletcher admits he has sympathy for team-mate Gareth McAuley, after the 35-year-old was wrongly sent for an early bath at Man City on Saturday.

The dismissal came in just the second minute at the Etihad Stadium, when referee Neil Swarbrick produced a red card for McAuley instead of Craig Dawson, who had committed the foul on Wilfried Bony.

The Baggies battled bravely for 88 minutes despite the numerical disadvantage, but fell to a 3-0 defeat at the home of the reigning Barclays Premier League champions.

Fletcher believes the red card was harsh on his side, but was of the assumption that the case of mistaken identity may have been, in Swarbrick’s eyes, due to a similarity in appearance.

He said: “I do have sympathy for Gareth.

“There was a mistaken identity, one is about ten years older than the other but maybe the referee thought they looked similar.

“In the old days refs would just say let me see your number.

“He red-carded the wrong player, but he took his time so in that respect it wasn’t a rash decision.

“I thought he was taking his time and would realise that it wasn’t a clear red card, but no.

“If you look at Bony’s reaction he tries to play on, the sending off just kills the game and as soon as we conceded the first goal we knew it was going to be really difficult.”

The margin of victory would have been much more handsome for Manuel Pellegrini’s men, but for a heroic display from Albion ‘keeper Boaz Myhill.

Fletcher was quick to praise the 32-year-old, who made just his second Premier League start this season.

“Boaz was fantastic, he is a great goalkeeper,” said the Scotland captain.

“It is unfortunate for him that we have Ben too, but he is great around the place and really stepped up against City.

“We are going to need him now.”

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