BURTON Albion boss Gary Rowett has leapt to the defence of two of his senior players after they came in for fierce criticism following Saturday’s 1-0 Pirelli Stadium victory over Bradford City.
Midfielder Lee Bell and central defender Nathan Stanton both felt the wrath of Bantams fans following incidents involving the duo during the contest.
Bradford had skipper Ricky Ravenhill sent off in the 32nd minute following a confrontation with Bell, with referee Andy D’Urso deeming the former had head-butted his opponent, though there seemed little, if any, contact as the two squared up following a heavy challenge despite the Brewers midfielder’s spectacular collapse to the ground.
Bell himself said on social networking site Twitter: “Never cheated today but did go down like a girl.”
The 29-year-old summer signing was branded a “coward”, a “cheat” and a “disgrace to football” for his actions by fellow Twitter users.
Stanton, meanwhile, making his first start since picking up an ankle injury in the third round of the Capital One Cup — ironically at Bradford’s Coral Windows Stadium — had a running battle with visiting fans, who began booing his every touch, and celebrated his team’s win in front of them at the final whistle.
The 31-year-old former Rochdale defender played down the incidents after the game, describing the Bradford fans as “great”
He said: “They were abusing me all game, so I don’t see a problem. If they can’t take it, why would they give it?
“It’s a bit of banter and there’s no harm in celebrating the win. There’s no malice meant in the gestures as far as I’m concerned and no disrespect meant towards the Bradford fans, I think they’re great fans.”
In response, Rowett has urged caution but says he has not felt the need to speak to either Bell or Stanton about the weekend.
He said: “No, I haven’t felt the need to have a word with either of them.
“With Stanno, I am always wary of the dangers of him getting involved with opposition fans - it is something were are quite big on.
“I think they gave him quite a lot of stick during the game - it was by no means one way - but he has got to bite his tongue.
“Stanno is certainly a passionate player, but it is just something he has got to be careful with - he has got to be careful it does not spill over onto the game.
“Fans seem to be able to abuse players, but players have a responsibility to make sure it doesn’t go too far from their point of view in terms of inciting the crowd.”
The Brewers boss, meanwhile, has no issue with Bell’s actions and backed his experienced midfielder to shrug off the subsequent abuse he has received.
Rowett said: “As for the Lee Bell incident, if you make an action towards a player then you run the risk of being in trouble.
“It is not nice to get that sort of stuff on social network sites.
“If as a player you go on them then you are open to those sort of comments, but I am sure Belly is experienced enough not to let them affect him.”