A furious Neil Warnock claimed Dael Fry was a “millimetre away from having his eyeball taken out” in the controversial first-half incident that overshadowed Middlesbrough’s 1-0 home defeat to Blackburn.
Joe Rothwell scored the only goal of the game as Boro lost at the Riverside for the second time in eight days, but the key moment of the afternoon came in the 14th minute as Fry was kicked in the head by Blackburn defender Jarrad Branthwaite as he went up to try to win a header.
Fry was unable to continue because of a deep gash under his eye, but referee Dean Whitestone failed to award either a penalty or issue Branthwaite with a red card.
Warnock said: “It’s the game-changing incident, isn’t it? After that, I wasn’t even bothered about the result, after I saw the mess his face is in.
“That’s not why we’re in the game, that. I don’t think the lad meant to do it, but they’ve just read me the rules out – endangering the safety of a player. Well, it can’t be any worse than that.
“He’s a millimetre away from having his eyeball taken out. We miss out in all ends – we don’t get a penalty, we don’t get a sending off and we have one of our best players carried off. It’s an absolute bloody joke and I’m absolutely distraught.
“They’ve got to clear the blood and everything away, but the doctor has just said he’s a millimetre from his eyeball being taken out.
“How can you not see it? I’ve looked at the pictures and the referee has nobody in his line – so what’s the reason why he’s not seen it? I don’t understand it. For me, that’s elementary. We deserve better. The linesman should see it as well.
“You just expect people to do their job, and they’re not doing their job. They’ll probably get another game next week and not worry about it. What’s it matter, Middlesbrough?
“It’s so disappointing for me, when I look at the efforts the players have put in. I don’t think we’ve lost the game today, I just think the officials have been not good enough. I think we would have won the game if the officials had done their job.”
Warnock confronted Branthwaite, who is on loan at Blackburn from Everton, on the pitch after the final whistle, an action that infuriated Rovers boss Tony Mowbray.
Mowbray said: “I am not sure he should be facing an 18-year-old boy up who is just starting his career.
“I know the boy after working with him for 10 days. He’s just a shy boy on a journey who probably can’t believe he’s left Carlisle to go to Everton.
“He’s played four times in the Premier League and now he’s at Blackburn trying to learn his trade. He’s got no edges to him. He’s not angry.
“Neil will be really hurting I am pretty sure and that’s reflecting in his emotion and passion for his football club. That’s how I see it.”
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.