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Oct 7, 2007

FFA to investigate A-League incidents

Football Federation Australia will on Monday investigate several alleged off-field incidents from Melbourne Victory's controversial 1-0 win over Sydney FC at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Sydney fans reportedly threw bottles at referee Mark Shield as he was escorted from the field by police on Saturday night with home supporters upset the experienced official had sent off Steve Corica in the 25th minute for a challenge on Victory defender Steve Pantelidis.

There were also media reports about an altercation between rival supporters before the game, plus claims a flare was ignited.

An FFA spokesman said A-League officials will examine reports from venue officials and the referee from the match, as they do after every game.

Sydney boss Branko Culina may also come under scrutiny for comments made to the referee, with the FC boss reportedly saying to Shield as he headed towards the tunnel: "If the police need to escort you, it's not a good sign."

With all A-League coaches receiving a memo from the FFA last week about not abusing officials, Culina was far more wary about his comments over the Corica send off in the post-match press conference.

"I am not going to comment anymore about the referee because I can't afford to pay the fines," he said.

The incidents capped a fiery weekend of action in the A-League, with Sunday's NSW derby between Central Coast and Newcastle in particular serving up no shortage of controversy.

The Jets snatched a dramatic 1-1 draw in the top-of-the-table clash in Gosford, reducing the Mariners' lead at the A-League summit to three points.

Jets coach Gary van Egmond followed Culina's lead post-match in not wanting to criticise referee Matthew Breeze over his handling of the game which saw six Newcastle players booked to the Mariners' one.

"Basically Breezy's refereed it the best way he can and whatever decisions he's made is the right decision because he's the ref," van Egmond said,

"Do we have a review board of those decisions? Is there someone coaching referees? I don't know if there is.

"I don't think it was a pre-meditated thing that there was going to be six yellow cards to one, it was just the circumstances that there was and just the way things turned out."

Jets forward Joel Griffiths was perhaps lucky to have received only a yellow card in the fourth minute after he appeared to strike linesman Alex Glasgow.

Van Egmond, though, was more concerned about Breeze's decision to let play continue after Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic appeared to have brought down Griffiths outside the area early in the second half.

"We got a memo this week about making sure we don't abuse referees and linesman ... all we want is some consistency.

"I'm sure if Breezy has a look at it again he might be a little bit upset with the decision he made.

"It happens in a fleeting moment, but it's what you're paid for.

"Everyone is accountable on the field. Players are accountable, coaches are accountable, administrators are accountable and referees have got to be accountable."

The result sees the Mariners move to 14 points, with the Victory now on 11 points ahead of the Jets (10).

Adelaide United (8) slipped into fourth on goal difference after their 0-0 draw with Perth Glory, with Wellington Phoenix (8) dropping out of the top four after their 2-1 loss to Queensland Roar in Brisbane on Friday.

The Roar and Sydney are also on eight points, with Perth still winless on the bottom of the ladder with four points.

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