JETS coach Ernie Merrick has accused Sydney defender Jordy Buijs of performing “like a B-grade actor” after the incident that resulted in Newcastle striker Roy O’Donovan being sent off at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.
Buijs and O’Donovan collided while contesting a ball in the 13th minute and the Dutch import fell to the turf, holding his face, rolling around and writhing in apparent agony.
His histrionics prompted the Video Assistant Referee to scrutinise the match video, and soon afterwards referee Chris Beath showed a stunned O’Donovan the red card.
Replays indicated O’Donovan struck Buijs in the face with his right hand, but Merrick said the Irish target man vehemently denied doing so intentionally.
Newcastle recovered from the setback to post a remarkable 2-1 victory against the competition leaders, but O’Donovan is facing a suspension of at least one week, and possibly longer if he is charged with violent conduct.
Merrick said at Saturday’s post-match press conference that “it was quite a performance the centre back put on” and he was even more forthright on Sunday, declaring Buijs’ antics reminded him of “showtime wrestling”.
RELATED: See all the match photos here.
“Roy was initially fouled by Buijs, who cut him off, and Roy reacted without thought or intent,” Merrick told the Newcastle Herald.
“The centre back put on an injury display like a B-grade actor that was embarrassing ... [but] which got a reaction from the referee.
“Whatever happened to tough, manly competition?”
Merrick said referee Beath “did not appear to be overly concerned initially” but then spent close to four minutes reviewing the incident before dismissing O’Donovan.
All I know is that Roy O’Donovan says he did not do anything deliberate.- ERNIE MERRICK
“Big match, 18,000-plus spectators and that is what is delivered,” Merrick said. “What can I say?”
Merrick’s thoughts were echoed by Foxtel commentators Mark Bosnich and Archie Thompson.
Bosnich labelled Buijs’ reaction “disgraceful”, and said it should be scrutinised by the match-review panel for possible simulation.
“It looks like somebody hit him with a baseball bat across the head,” he said. “What is that? That’s ridiculous.”
Thompson added: “Look, I’m not a big fan of when players go down and roll around. It’s just not in our culture here in Australia to be doing that.”
The 18,156-strong crowd proceeded to boo Buijs every time he touched the ball, and he copped a spray from Jets defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley after conceding a penalty that resulted in Newcastle’s opening goal.
Bosnich and Thompson said O’Donovan did not deserve a red card.
“All I know is that Roy O’Donovan says he did not do anything deliberate,” Merrick said.
“He may have struck the centre back, but it wasn’t deliberate. He even apologised to him.
“But knowing Roy, if he says that, he means it.”
O’Donovan, who copped an eight-match ban two years ago for headbutting Wellington’s Manny Muscat while playing for Central Coast, now faces a nervous wait to find out what charge he is facing.
Merrick said it would be up to Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna whether to appeal against any suspension.
“I’ve never seen an appeal being worthwhile, so that’s up to Lawrie, the boss, not me,” he said.
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