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Birmingham boss Bruce angry after penalty shouts ignored

Birmingham City boss Steve Bruce is convinced ref Steve Bennett ignored two clear penalty claims for his side after their 2-1 derby defeat to Aston Villa.

Bennett had incurred the wrath of Villa boss Martin O'Neill earlier in the season when he sent him from the dug-out during the home clash with Fulham.

Now he angered the other side of the Second City with Bruce convinced spot-kicks should have been awarded against Zat Knight - for handball - and Martin Laursen, for bringing down Daniel De Ridder who was booked for allegedly diving.

In the end an 87th-minute header from Gabriel Agbonlahor settled the game in Villa's favour after Blues substitute Mikael Forssell had cancelled out an own goal from former Villa defender Liam Ridgewell.

Bruce said: "What is the point of speaking to the referee?

"I was adamant at the time the first one is handball by Zat Knight. We've all seen it except Mr Bennett.

"For the second one he has got to be convinced De Ridder is diving.

"De Ridder has said at half-time that he was caught by Laursen. I've seen it again and he has been caught. It is a blatant penalty.

"As usual with Mr Bennett, especially with us anyway, we never seem to get those decisions and he has made two howlers. Big decisions in a derby like that are crucial.

"If we get two penalties, we are in the driving seat.

"For me they are two blatant penalties but whether Mr Keith Hackett (referees' supremo) does anything about it, I am not so sure.

"If Mr Bennett has genuinely got them wrong, so be it. But refs are professionals and you expect them to get big decisions right like that.

"He got them wrong and it has cost us. I hope he comes out and says that."

Blues recovered from Ridgewell's own goal and it needed a goal-line clearance from Agbonlahor to prevent the Blues skipper making amends before he scored the winning goal at the other end of the pitch.

Bruce said: "We had to recover from the own goal and Villa were then in the ascendancy.

"We didn't stop the cross as well as we should have and Liam did not anticipate it as well as he should have - and it ended up in the back of the net.

"That rocked us for 20-25 minutes. We couldn't wait to get to half-time and try something different, which we did, and that worked better for us and we looked a threat up front.

"A draw would have been a fair result. I thought Liam's header was in, that it was going to be his day, but it just shows what a fine edge it is between victory and defeat.

"It was a cracking derby and we have been harshly treated."

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Tribal Football Staff

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