VISITING manager Gary Rowett felt referee Iain Williamson had been wrong to postpone Cherries’ FA Cup tie with Burton Albion at Dean Court today.
The Berkshire-based official conducted a number of inspections before deeming the pitch unplayable due to water logging around 75 minutes ahead of the scheduled 3pm kick-off.
While the Burton squad had stayed overnight, most of their supporters had set off from Staffordshire this morning, only to discover the third round tie had fallen foul of the weather.
Rowett, speaking immediately after the postponement, said: “I am not here to make a problem. There is a strip down the side of the pitch that is quite wet but the ball was rolling and bouncing. I genuinely think it was called off for what might have become a problem in the next hour or two. The problem with that is what do you do? Do you start calling games off on a Thursday because the forecast for Saturday isn’t very good?
“You can only judge what is in front of you and I think it was playable. It might have been different if the game was going to be a massive problem and the conditions very poor. But the pitch was fantastic and it was just a small strip down the side.
“I have to try to take a balanced view on what is right and what is appropriate. I am disappointed for our supporters and lots of them have travelled.
“The referee made his decision based on what he saw. I said to him I could either agree or disagree and everyone is entitled to their opinion. In my opinion, the pitch was completely playable and there wasn’t a problem.
“I am not saying it might not have had a chance of deteriorating as the game went on. The referee said it might have chopped up but you can’t call off a game because the pitch doesn’t look very good. They never would have played in the 1970s. In my opinion, the game should have gone ahead so I was disappointed.”
No date has yet been decided for the rearrangement of the tie and discussions are taking place with the FA. It could be as early as Tuesday or Wednesday of next week or Tuesday, January 14 – the original date set for any potential replay.
Cherries boss Eddie Howe said: “We are disappointed because when the away team and their supporters travel, you want the game on. We certainly wanted it on. You have to look at the positives in every situation and at least our pitch stays in one piece.
“My initial reaction when I saw the pitch was that the game could be in doubt. There was water on the top and, when you took two or three steps on it, you realised just how wet it was. Anyone coming to watch would not have seen a proper match and it would have been a bit of a farce.
“In my opinion, I think the referee made the right call, although it was frustrating for everyone. He made his call and you have to accept it.”