Sporting gesture the ultimate goal

LONDON • Doncaster Rovers manager Paul Dickov said he "didn't really think twice" about letting opponents Bury walk the ball into the net for a stoppage-time equaliser on Saturday, after his side had taken the lead by mistake.

Doncaster's Harry Forrester had inadvertently given his side the lead when he tried to return the ball to Bury's goalkeeper.

The latter had knocked it out of play following an injury.

Forrester saw his "pass" sail over Christian Walton's head into goal.

Dickov tried to persuade the match officials to call for a foul throw-in and disallow the goal.

When that failed, he ordered his players to allow Bury's Leon Clarke to dribble the ball into the net from the restart.

"I didn't really think twice about allowing them to equalise. It just wouldn't have been right for us to take three points in the circumstances," the BBC quoted Dickov as saying after the English third-tier league match ended 1-1.

"It was just an unfortunate ending to the game. Harry Forrester hit the ball too sweet and I was just hoping it wouldn't go in.

"When it did, we just had to allow them to score because you can't win a game like that."

Bury manager David Flitcroft said Dickov "put football in a good place with his sportsmanship".

"Because if you lose morality, the game has no substance for me," he added. "I've got the ultimate respect for Paul Dickov. He tried to get the referee to award a foul throw initially but then he's allowed us to score from the restart."

While there is no law stating the ball must be returned to the team in possession at the time of an injury, players usually abide by the unwritten sporting code.

Forrester, who held his hands up and immediately apologised to Bury players after his goal, took to Twitter later to say it had been completely unintentional.

"Apologies to Bury for the shank. I haven't got that placement from 40 yards I can assure you," he said. "Totally accidental." REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2015, with the headline 'Sporting gesture the ultimate goal'. Print Edition | Subscribe