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Dundee United’s Mark Connolly refuses to criticise Alfredo Morelos despite clash

Mark Connolly file photo
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Dundee United defender Mark Connolly has refused to criticise Alfredo Morelos despite receiving a blow to the face from the Rangers striker.

Morelos has been handed a retrospective two-match ban after planting his forearm into Connolly’s jaw during last Sunday’s Tannadice clash.

Referee Steven McLean booked Morelos for the incident – but the Colombian found himself facing further action after SFA compliance officer Clare Whyte decided it was an act of violent conduct which merited stronger punishment.

But as far as Connolly is concerned, the ugly episode which happened just 12 minutes into United’s 2-1 defeat is water under the bridge.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s trip to Hibernian, the Irishman said: “The jaw is fine, no problem at all. It was disappointing but it’s been dealt with and we move on.

“It’s something I don’t really want to get involved in. Tempers fly in games but I’m fine and ready to go for Hibs on Saturday.

“I’m just disappointed we didn’t get something out of Sunday’s game against Rangers as I felt defensively we were very good as a unit.

“I’ve got to stay calm in those situations because I want to be on the pitch for Dundee United and I want to get results.

“It was disappointing, but it’s been dealt with and I don’t want to make anything of it. I’m just moving on and I’ll concentrate on my football.

“All the other stuff will be taken care of by the referees, the linesmen and obviously the SFA, who have now dealt with it.

“Might I have reacted to that sort of thing when I was younger? Maybe yeah. Maybe the older you get, the more mature you get and more you’re switched on.

“But it’s something I have dealt with well and moved on. I felt like I’ve focused with my own game and did well in the game and that’s all I wanted.”

Former Hearts boss Craig Levein suggested Morelos had been riled up after Connolly had “left a couple” on the Gers ace early in the match.

But Connolly reckons his clash with Colombian had more to do with Morelos’ frustrations at his own performance, having notched up his sixth game in a row without a goal.

“He’s a top-class player who is a brilliant striker,” he added. “He’s been one of the best strikers in the league for so many years. I think he can give it out and he takes it as a player as well.

“I wouldn’t say (it was about) provoking him. He’s an intelligent player, he knows what he needs to do to score goals and maybe he was a wee bit frustrated at the weekend.

“But I’m genuinely not too bothered about him. I’m more focused on my own game. On Sunday we gave everything we could but unfortunately we just couldn’t get the result.”