Blackburn Rovers boss praised referees after their handball goal ruled out against Preston North End

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Blackburn Rovers boss Jon Dahl Tomasson was left ironically praising the referees after his side’s dramatic draw with Preston North End.

Blackburn though they’d scored after an hour, Sammie Szmodics making out that he had headed the ball into the back of the net off the underside of Freddie Woodman’s crossbar. The officials on the day, Rob Jones and his assistant in that half Constantine Hatzidakis, came together to rule out the goal and instead hand Szmodics a yellow card for what proved to be a blatant attempt to con the referee as he outstretched his arm to divert it towards goal.

But the irony in the Rovers boss’ genuine praise of the officials comes as his side still feel aggrieved when it comes to a handball decision of their own. In midweek, Blackburn again conceded a late equaliser to a play-off rival. Coventry City goalkeeper Ben Wilson was the man to secure a point for his side, with Blackburn claiming that the ball struck his hand on the way into the goal, something which was not picked up and the goal stood.

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Speaking about the game against North End, Tomasson said: “We're disappointed, frustrated that the result is not coming our way. We worked so hard to get the three points, did a brilliant job and then to concede in the way we did.

Blackburn Rovers manager Jon Dahl TomassonBlackburn Rovers manager Jon Dahl Tomasson
Blackburn Rovers manager Jon Dahl Tomasson

"It's a goal we should have avoided of course. Scott Wharton slips, it's an unlucky kick that hits a player but before that we should have buried the game, we all know that, with the chance just before.

"But, at this stage, when you don't get the three points every point is important. I have to say thank you to the fans, there were 5,000 of our fans here and I thought it was a great atmosphere. It was a typical derby game. It was like it should be - enjoyable.

“We also need to give credit to the ref, he saw handball today. Last week that cost us two points. Well done to the ref, excellent. Hopefully they can all have the same level. Against Coventry it was not that good.”

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Tomasson was left to rue what might have been, with Ryan Hedges presented the perfect chance to seal the three points for his side.

Hedges, when through one on one with the goalkeeper, opted for a tame attempt to chip Freddie Woodman rather than putting his laces through the ball. Woodman caught the attempt and immediately set PNE on the attack, an attack which they scored from as Dominic Hyam turned the ball into his own net to cancel out Szmodics’ earlier opener.

Tomasson said: “He needs to bury it. It's quite simple, isn't it? That or run to the corner flag. That's football. Those players are doing their best for Rovers in that way, then we concede a goal that we, of course, should have avoided.

"I think it was well deserved when we went into the lead. We have played a lot of games this season so we need to use everybody to keep the energy in the team.

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“It hurts because we know it’s a derby, we know it’s tough, we know the stage of the season and we know how important it is for our fans. Not only because we’re around the players but also because it’s a derby. So that hurts but if you look at how hard they’re working, and how they keep on working, it's impressive.”