O's Clay perplexed by decision to send off Widdowson
PUBLISHED: 11:00 16 October 2018
Simon O'Connor Photography
The 26-year-old reflected on the controversial moment which occured during the game with Hartlepool United
Leyton Orient midfielder Craig Clay revealed his bemusement at the decision to send off team-mate Joe Widdowson during Saturday’s National League stalemate at home to Hartlepool United.
The full-back was given his marching orders in the 58th minute for a strong challenge on Pools ace Michael Woods.
Referee Adrian Quelch took his time before making the decision after he was initially surrounded by up to seven Hartlepool players.
Clay was frustrated with the reaction of the opposition and clear in his mind about whether the tackle was a red or not.
He said: “I am not being funny it’s a man’s game. It was a full-blooded challenge and I was right next to it and I personally don’t think it should have been a sending off.
“We have looked back over it with Joe and analysed it and all the boys agree it is not a sending off.
“In the highlights you will see six or seven of them have got around the referee and maybe they have got in his head a little bit which is never good to see. We don’t think it is a red.”
The debate about the sending off will go on and on and while Justin Edinburgh was furious after Saturday’s game, the club have decided not to appeal the decision.
It means Widdowson will sit out the next three matches in all competitions and is set to be available again for the trip to AFC Fylde on November 3, although he could be back quicker if Orient were taken to a replay by Maidstone United in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup this weekend.
Edinburgh has options to cover for Widdowson with Sam Ling and Myles Judd both able to line up at left-back and George Elokobi can also do a job there, while so could Dan Happe at a push.
Teenager Shadrach Ogie is another option, but the overriding feel regarding the red card incident is it could disrupt the form of the ex-Dagenham & Redbridge defender.
Widdowson has been superb since Edinburgh took over at the end of November 2017 and been one of the most consistent performers for O’s during the past 12 months.
Clay concurred, adding: “Joe’s been class and solid and obviously he will be a big miss for us over these next three games.
“But, like we have said before, we have squad depth and people who can come in and cover for him.”
This is true and hopefully the unexpected time off for Widdowson will allow him the chance to recuperate after a demanding few months and ensure he can maintain his consistent performances for the duration of the campaign.
It has also been a strenuous time for Clay, who showed exceptional energy levels in the game with Hartlepool.
He could very well be given a rest on Saturday and admitted his tank was running low come the conclusion of Saturday’s 0-0 draw.
“I am not going to lie I was running on empty a bit, all the boys were, and it is tough against 11 men,” Clay said.
“Like I say, it is a good point, but a frustrating one and credit to the boys. Hopefully the gaffer lets us take it easy at the start of the week!”