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Jack Ross criticises referee as late melee overshadows Wycombe-Sunderland game

Sunderland manager Jack Ross saw his side snatch a point in a dramatic finale at Wycombe (Richard Sellers/PA)
Sunderland manager Jack Ross saw his side snatch a point in a dramatic finale at Wycombe (Richard Sellers/PA)

Sunderland manager Jack Ross criticised referee Lee Swabey for his handling of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Wycombe after three players were sent off in stoppage time.

Home striker Nathan Tyson and Sunderland midfielder George Honeyman, who had both been substituted, saw red after a touchline fracas between the teams was sparked by Wycombe’s slowness in returning the ball.

Wycombe midfielder Marcus Bean then got his marching orders 10 minutes into added time after picking up a second yellow for a foul on Lee Cattermole.

That all came after Sunderland had snatched an equaliser two minutes into stoppage time through Duncan Watmore, which cancelled out Alex Samuel’s first-half opener.

Ross said of the late flashpoint: “It is something I need to look at, I don’t really know what went on.

“I saw a lot of people coming together. I am going to speak to the referee and get clarity on it. If it was justified then there is nothing we can do about it. If not, then we will look at it from there.

“First of all, I don’t think there was a huge amount of control over the whole game. And I did comment on that through the game. That was a factor.

“We have to take responsibility within our behaviour, as do Wycombe. Both technical areas have to take responsibility, you can’t proportion blame to the referee for that.

“But the whole game had a lack of control. I have no issue with my players and staff looking after each other but it always has to be within reason.”

Watmore’s late leveller continued Sunderland’s run of having scored in every League One match this season, but the draw leaves them four points behind second-placed Barnsley.

Ross added: “Individually, a lot of us were below par, and collectively we were as well.

“It just wasn’t a good day for us. So to then dig something out of the match is testament to the players again.

“There’s a strength of character not to be beat, and they’ve shown that time after time.”

Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth believes his ‘lion-hearted’ side – who had been on a four-match losing streak coming into the match – deserved to win.

He also feels they can look to the future with optimism if they can replicate these types of performances, despite the fact 12th-placed Wanderers are now just five points above the drop zone.

He said: “It’s really hard to look beyond the result and what happened at the end of the game, because I really thought we deserved the win today.

“We created the better chances. It’s harsh. It’s a mistake for their goal, but that happens.

“We had awesome players out there – they had hearts that beat like lions and they were magnificent from the first whistle to the last. It’s unfortunate we’ve drawn the game.

He added: “It feels like a loss, but a point against Sunderland, both home and away, is a message that Wycombe are here to compete.

“We’re here to give it everything, and the boys did that today.  We’re really proud. I couldn’t have asked for any more.

“If they deliver between now and the end of the season, we’ll be looking to see how far we can go, never mind how many points we need. It’s a really positive day.”