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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 27, 2007

Hunt wants an end to victimisation from refs

Reading midfielder Stephen Hunt believes he is being picked on by referees and is growing 'fed up' with it.

Hunt was booked in Reading's 1-1 draw with West Ham yesterday after an altercation with goalkeeper Robert Green - but insists he was the innocent party.

The Ireland international has the support of Reading manager Steve Coppell, who fears Hunt is being judged on reputation.

'I have to speak up for Stephen Hunt. As far as I was concerned, he was totally innocent when he was booked,' said Coppell. 'He didn't do anything but chase a ball down. My fellow has done nothing wrong and was booked on past history.

'The referee back-tracked at half-time. He told one of my staff it was to get him out of the way and when he didn't retreat he was booked

'But the fourth official said it was dissent - if anyone can understand Stephen Hunt in those circumstances they are doing an awful lot better than I can.'

Hunt is a tenacious, hard-working midfielder but does not have a poor disciplinary record, the Boxing Day booking only his third this season.

He felt hard done by at Upton Park.

Green collided with the retreating Scott Parker but appeared to exchange words with Hunt, and the pair then engaged in a shoving match.

'It was an over-reaction from the goalkeeper. It was harsh on me, and I'm a bit fed up with it,' said Hunt.

'It was nothing to do with me. Maybe the referee booked me for complaining, but you can't blame me. The way the goalkeeper reacted was not right really.

'I think when I get into certain situations the decision goes against me. There's nothing you can do - I'm a committed player. I'm making a run forward, and there's little if any contact with Parker. It was the goalkeeper's fault.'

On a day which saw a flurry of red cards around the country, the match was overshadowed by the dismissal of Brynjar Gunnarsson for a two-footed challenge on Hayden Mullins.

The Iceland international ruled out following Chelsea's Ashley Cole and Aston Villa defender Zat Knight in appealing.

'I was just trying to get the ball. There was obviously no intent but there have been a few incidents in the last couple of weeks, and I think the referees are trying to be consistent,' he said

'I don't think it is worth appealing. I'm lucky in a way that it is a quick turnaround of games and I'll be back playing in a short while.'

Reading face a tricky run of games, starting with improving Tottenham on Saturday - with Portsmouth on New Year's day and then Aston Villa, Manchester United and Chelsea before the end of January.

Reading's point at Upton Park was only their third away from the Madejski Stadium all season - and it was fully deserved, because they more than matched West Ham despite being down to 10 men.

The Hammers also have a difficult month ahead, starting against Manchester United this weekend. Four of their next five league games are against top six clubs.

Their home form has been poor all season - with careless points dropped against Wigan, Bolton and Reading.

But memories of last season give the Hammers confidence for Saturday's clash with United before the new year trip to Arsenal.

'We did the double over Manchester United last year and beat Arsenal away too,' said Mullins. 'We are underdogs but we're at home - and when the fans get behind us it's terrific to play here. There will be no reason why we cannot go into the Manchester United game looking for a win.'