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Olympics2000



Derby boss Jim Smith
"I don't think we cheated"
 real 14k

Thursday, 7 September, 2000, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
Derby in 'cheat' row
Branko Strupar
Branko Strupar swoops for the contentious goal
Middlesbrough manager Bryan Robson and his Derby County counterpart Jim Smith traded 'cheat' accusations after the Rams came back from 3-0 down to draw in controversial circumstances.

Robson raged when Derby retained possession after a Phil Stamp injury in a move which ultimately resulted in their second goal, scored by Branko Strupar.

And Smith was swift to respond by labelling Boro striker Alen Boksic a "cheat" after the incident which sparked the visitors' first-half penalty opener.

"Derby have cheated to get a point out of the game. It's as simple as that," Robson insisted.

Strupar's goal came from a corner which Rams striker Deon Burton had won after running on to a throw-in from Dean Sturridge.

Sturridge had broken one of football's unwritten rules by refusing to hurl the ball back to Boro keeper Mark Schwarzer after Paul Ince booted the ball out to get Stamp treatment.


Derby have cheated to get a point out of the game. It's as simple as that
  Bryan Robson
Robson added: "I blame Sturridge and Burton. Everybody knows the rules - when a player goes down injured and a player deliberately kicks the ball out of play, then you give it back. Derby didn't do that so they cheated."

Smith, whose 65th-minute double-introduction of Christie and Giorgi Kinkladze turned a seemingly predictable night on its head, hit back: "I thought it was justified. Stamp sat down when he wasn't injured, Ince was playing for time and trying to ensure a point. Even then we still had to defend the corner."

And Smith stoked the fires further by slamming Boksic after the Croatian was pulled down just inside the box to win his 10th-minute spot-kick. "I thought Mr Boksic cheated on the penalty. I thought it was a nice dive," Smith said.

Boro boss Robson refused to focus on his side's capitulation.

"They wouldn't have scored a second goal if they hadn't got behind us when it was up to them to give the ball back to Mark Schwarzer," Robson added.

"The only way Deon Burton got down the side of us was because our defence stopped because they thought they were going to play the ball back to our keeper. Otherwise they would never have been in the position to take the corner where they scored."

Arsenal precedent

Strupar's goal had echoes of Marc Overmars strike in the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Arsenal and Sheffield United in February 1999.

In that instance, the ball had been kicked out by United to allow Lee Morris to receive treatment.

Nwankwo Kanu, instead of returning the ball to the Blades, then quickly released Overmars who put the home side ahead.

However, the FA later announced that the match should be replayed. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had earlier asked for the game to be replayed.

While the furore about Strupar's goal raged, Jim Smith preferred to praise Malcolm Christie, scorer of the other two Derby goals.

Malcolm Christie
Christie has now scored four times against 'Boro
We've been patient with Malcolm and he's come back and you saw he's got a natural feel for goals," Smith said, temporarily putting the controversy aside.

"I'm delighted for him because of what he's gone through. It's only one game but he does look a very, very dangerous player."

Christie has now scored nine goals in 22 Premier League starts, and four of those goals have came in two matches against Middlesbrough.

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