May 26, 2024

Luton were awarded a penalty against Brighton after Lewis Dunk was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the area – but Mike Dean and Michael Dawson weren’t too sure

Mike Dean questioned the decision to award Luton a penalty in their Premier League opener after Simon Thomas jokingly called out the ex-referee on his Soccer Saturday debut.

The Hatters were handed an opportunity to get back into the game after Solly March and Joao Pedro gave Brighton a two-goal lead at the Amex Stadium. Jacob Brown’s cross was handled by Lewis Dunk in the box and David Coote had no hesitations but to point to the penalty spot.

Carlton Morris stepped up and coolly converted, sending Jason Steele the wrong way to score Luton’s first-ever Premier League goal. Michael Dawson, who was working for Sky Sports, admitted he felt the decision was “so harsh” on Brighton and thought it was going be overruled.

Dawson said: “Lewis Dunk slides and he puts his arm up, but it’s actually the arm that’s behind him that it hits. I think it’s so, so harsh again. Very, very soft. It hits the back of his arm, VAR are checking. I’m guessing it’s the one at the back. I think it’s going to be overruled.”

Meanwhile, presenter Thomas then added: “Is it going to be overruled, Mike Dean?” The Wirral-born ex-official replied: “I’m not sure to be honest.”

But Thomas pushed Dean for an answer, saying: “Come on we haven’t bought you for not sures!” Dean finally gave an assessment of the incident and agreed with Dawson’s initial verdict.

Dean finished: “It is handball but it’s behind him. I think it’s a harsh decision to be fair, because he’s got no idea the ball is going to hit him. He’s tried to block it with his back, it’s gone past his front arm and caught his elbow which is behind him, so I think it’s harsh to be fair.”

Carlton Morris celebrates after scoring for Luton

However, the decision to hand Luton a penalty did not impact the outcome as Brighton scored two late on to secure a 4-1 opening day victory. Simon Adingra netted the Seagulls’ third with his first Premier League strike, before Evan Ferguson wrapped up the points in injury-time.

Speaking after the game, De Zerbi told Sky Sports: “It was a difficult game, especially as we find this team playing in their first game in the Premier League. I think we played well. We are not at our best yet because there are new players and we need to give them time to understand out ideas. But I am happy.”

Meanwhile, Luton boss Rob Edwards said: “I thought we competed well. We were in the game at 2-1. The third goal killed us off and we had a lot of opportunities to clear the ball.

“We didn’t take them and that shows the ruthless nature of the league. In the first half I thought we were solid, compact and aggressive where we needed to be and we retained a counter-attacking threat.

“I thought the penalty was a bit soft but at 2-0 you’re thinking ‘OK, we’re in it but we need to find a way back in’. We found a way, made some aggressive changes and then disappointed to concede the third.”

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