Pic: East Thurrock United FC
EAST THURROCK UNITED say they are “disappointed” by Farnborough’s claims that the Rocks’ Lewis Smith slapped referee John O’Brien during their Ryman Premier clash on Monday night.
Smith and Farnborough’s Josh Gallagher were dismissed near the end of the game – which East Thurrock won 3-0 to go top of the table – after the pair tangled.
After their initial spat, the duo got into another exchange on their way to the dressing rooms which dragged more players into the melee.
Farnborough added fuel to the fire after the final whistle, tweeting: “The Farnborough FC players are reporting that East Thurrock’s Lewis Smith was sent off for slapping the referee in the face.”
Ref O’Brien was in the middle of the scramble and says Smith did make physical contact with him but did not think it was a deliberate act, according to East Thurrock.
The Rocks released a statement on Tuesday morning, saying: “After the game concluded referee John O’Brien called East Thurrock secretary Neil Speight to his changing room to inform him of events as he saw them.
“The referee confirmed that Lewis – and Farnborough’s Josh Gallagher – were dismissed for a confrontation when the two players tangled. The red card for Lewis related to that incident alone.
“Both players initially set off for the dressing room but in the exchange that followed a number of players became embroiled further, including Lewis who approached the referee.
“In the scramble around the referee, Mr O’Brien said Lewis made physical contact with him and his hand came off the referee’s body and caught Mr O’Brien on the face.
“Mr O’Brien was at pains to express the point that he did not think the facial contact was deliberate or an aggressive act but nevertheless he felt that as contact had been made he was duty bound to record the fact in his report. It will now be a matter for the FA.
“Mr O’Brien certainly did not suggest that he had been ‘slapped’ by Lewis, as suggested on Farnborough’s official website and East Thurrock are disappointed that a club would make such an unsubstantiated statement.”