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By Jamie Arrowsmith Wednesday 20 February 2013 Updated: 20/02 17:29
RUGBY Town manager Dave Stringer was left seething after Saturday’s trip to Royston during which he saw his captain Robbie Banks stretchered off with a double leg fracture before concluding with the home team refusing to return to the pitch to complete the game.
With Town leading 1-0 and Royston a player short due to an earlier sending off, referee Tim Donnellan was left with no choice but to abandon it, despite Stringer and his players - with the full backing of the unfortunate Banks - wanting to carry on.
“The whole thing is just low and despicable, and I’m disgusted with what happened,” Stringer raged.
“Things had been going so well, we had scored a great goal and looked likely to win. The tackle on Robbie was dangerous with studs showing, and deserved a red card in itself.
“I just can’t get my head round their players then claiming they were too traumatised to continue.
“I am hoping the league sees sense and comes to the right decision, because if they don’t it could open up a huge can of worms every time a player gets injured.”
In his match report the referee confirmed that ‘with 24 minutes left to play, Royston Town, down to ten men and losing 1-0, refused to finish the game saying players were not in the right frame of mind.’
The FA requires an abandoned game to be replayed unless there is something stipulated in the rules of the specific competition, and fortunately for Town, the Southern League handbook does set out the possibility of awarding the points to one team in this type of situation.
Rugby have already contacted the league management committee requesting this rule be applied, and they have been promised a decision by tomorrow (Friday).
Speaking on the Non League Pitchero website, Royston manager Paul Attfield defended his team’s decision.
He said: “You cannot expect players to go back on the pitch and play an intense game of football after being involved in and seeing such a horrific injury. It’s not logical and just not right.
“It was obvious the players were not mentally capable of continuing the game. I spoke to them and took the decision on their behalf. I did ask the referee to consider calling the game off but he wanted to continue.”
He continued: “People may think we were trying to get the game called off because we were down to ten-men and losing, but that wasn’t the case at all.”
Stringer confirmed that Banks’ fractures had now been successfully set and he had returned home after an overnight stay in hospital.
He added: “At the time it looked career threatening, but fortunately it looks like a clean break with no complications, so hopefully he can be back in about six to eight months.”
ANOTHER DOUBLE TEST FOR TOWN
Town’s promotion push continues with two more games over the coming week, with 14th placed Uxbridge visiting Butlin Road on Saturday before they travel to Aylesbury on Tuesday.
Stringer will be without four key players for the Uxbridge clash - with left-back Craig Kelly’s groin injury meaning he joins Banks on the sidelines, and Dave Bevan and Sam Belcher are both suspended as a result of their recent red cards.
Bevan was supposed to have served his one-match ban at Royston, but the FA has confirmed that as the game was abandoned, this would now not count.
Stringer is hoping to draft Andy Stevens in again to take the gloves against Uxbridge, with either Ed Booth or Alex Austin likely to come in for the injured Kelly.
After having started with a lone striker for that ill-fated trip to Hertfordshire, Stringer may well restore Seb Lake-Gaskin to the side. Fazel Koriya could also be in line for a recall.
The club coach to Aylesbury will leave Butlin Road at 5.15pm. For the latest information regarding availability, contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.
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