Santalab says he's not a dirty player and refs know it

Brendon Santalab claims A-League referees know he's not a dirty player and that whistle-blower Shaun Evans got it spot-on when he only yellow-carded the Western Sydney Wanderers striker for his controversial tackle on Adelaide United's James Holland.

Santalab

Wanderers striker Brendon Santalab was given a yellow card for a contentious challenge on James Holland Source: Getty Images

The 84th-minute tackle in Friday night's game, when Santalab slid in but got Holland instead of the ball, bringing him down, incensed the Adelaide players, coach Guillermo Amor and the fans at Coopers Stadium, who thought it was a red-card offence.

But Santalab, who came off the bench to score two crucial goals and give Wanderers a come-from behind, 2-1 win on the road at Coopers Stadium, wasn't feeling like he'd been let off lightly.

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Rather, he was adamant the referee had acted appropriately, both in his case and also with the rugged, front-on challenge by Wanderers defender Jack Clisby on Adelaide winger Sergio Cirio in the first minute of the game.

Clisby was also yellow-carded when many thought it could've easily been red - even that early on in the match. Cirio was injured in the tackle and after continuing to play for a short time he had to be replaced.

Santalab said Wanderers had responded with great character to get the win after suffering the humiliation of a 4-0 derby defeat against Sydney FC in the opening round.

"We stood up and played like real men in this game" he said.

"A lot of people were quite angry at a couple of tackles, including by myself and Jack Clisby, and I feel as though both my challenge and Jack's challenge each warranted a yellow card and the ref dealt with those properly.

"Shaun's a great referee and he knows me very well and there's no intent or malice involved when it's me. He understands the way I play and that it's all about my competitive edge. I've been involved for six years in the A-League now and I've not been sent off one time.

"The referees all know me well and there's no intent or malice at all and I went up to James Holland to see if he was OK straight away and thankfully he was and he was able to continue the game and I was too, with my caution.

"I'm very competitive and everybody knows that and sometimes people perceive me the wrong way, but I think the speed at which I was sprinting in to tackle James Holland made it look a lot worse than it actually was and I've missed the ball and got James and fortunately he wasn't injured.

"I think it's quite a normal reaction from their fans and probably the players of Adelaide and the coaching staff. That's their personal opinion, but, like I said, I just play the game with a competitive edge and I play to win and sometimes with my aggressive nature that can be taken the wrong way."

Santalab had spoken in the lead-up to the match about Wanderers needing to stick together and show character by bouncing back from the heavy derby defeat. He said they went out there to make it difficult for Adelaide.

"The club needed to do something to stop the people talking about us never having won in the first two rounds of the season, so it's great to put that aside, but what was most pleasing was our overall performance," he said.

"It was all about character in this game and we needed to be strong, we needed to stand up and just fight for our lives and restore some pride after the derby and I thought we did that. Adelaide are a great side and very strong at home and nobody goes there and takes points easily.



"It's always a fight and sometimes these games are not about pretty football, you have to work hard and be strong for the win.

"My job as a substitute is to go on and change the game and help my team try and win and that's the requirement for whoever's on the bench any week for us. This was a desperate game for us and we had to get something from it.

"It was a great night. The fans of Adelaide put on a great display as well and the game had everything. It was a great spectacle for the league and great for our fans to be able to celebrate after the derby loss. It was fantastic for team morale."


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4 min read
Published 16 October 2016 at 1:35pm
By Greg Prichard