Sean Dyche was baffled by the decision to send Dominic Calvert-Lewin off in Everton’s goalless FA Cup third-round draw away at Crystal Palace on Thursday night, insisting there was only “minor contact” despite his dismissal. The Toffees striker saw red for the first time in his career after a VAR review late in the second half and Dyche has complained that “everything looks worse” when slowed down.
Calvert-Lewin slid in on Nathaniel Clyne on the edge of the box and made contact with the defender’s shin with his studs, albeit with minimal force. At first, the striker was not even given a yellow card and none of the players strongly protested for any punishment.
And those inside Selhurst Park were taken aback after the announcer confirmed over the tannoy that VAR was checking for a red card. Despite that, upon review, the VAR official Craig Pawson recommended that referee Chris Kavanagh visit the pitchside monitor to take another look.
After consulting the replays, Calvert-Lewin was dismissed. The incident was then shown on the big screen inside the stadium and was met by chants of “you’re not fit to referee” from the Everton away end. There was also widespread bemusement on social media over the decision.
Dyche reacted to ITV: “I haven’t asked Dom [what he thinks of it]. I think slow-mo shows a different picture. If you want to slow-mo things then you’ve got to slow-mo the penalty on Beto, what could have been a penalty. [Dean] Henderson’s got his arms clearly around him, cupping his body, he goes down and it’s not given.
“If you want to slow-mo everything, you’ve got to slow-mo everything. You can’t just have it one for one and one for the other. At the end of the day there’s contact – it’s minor contact. Live time, he [referee Kavanagh] doesn’t give anything. Slow it down and everything looks worse, we all know that.”
Asked if Everton will appeal the decision, Dyche added: “I’m not sure what the process is. We’ll double check that.” And Everton captain Seamus Coleman told ITV: “Listen when you slow it down, it’s obviously going to look that bit worse. From where I was it’s a great tackle. I saw the replay after and I don’t know who the fingers need to be pointed at.
“As soon as the ref goes over there, you know he’s going to give a red card. It’s been a big talking point but for me that’s not a red card. It’s another decision that goes against us that maybe won’t get talked about much.”
Meanwhile, Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson said: “I don’t know if I can understand those things these days. I don’t know what to make of it. I’m certain there’ll be lots of people who played in the past watching that saying it’s not a red card.
“People playing recently will possibly say it’s a red card because of the way the studs are up and he’s leading with a straight leg. I think it’s unfortunate for Calvert-Lewin. It wasn’t a vicious foul by any stretch of the imagination. I thought the referee actually reffed the game quite well.
“There were a lot of decisions to make, a lot of challenges, I thought he handled that fairly well. If the decision is a red card, so be it I suppose. I’m not prepared to say definitely it was or definitely it wasn’t. It’s a modern day situation.”
Dyche added of Everton’s performance: “There’s a lot of satisfaction [from the draw]. I thought we were back to our performance levels we’ve shown a lot this season, particularly away from home. Even when we went down to 10 men I thought the mentality was excellent. I said I felt the game at Wolves [a 3-0 defeat] we were off and it was a blip and I think we showed that tonight with another good performance.”
If the red card is upheld, Calvert-Lewin will be unavailable for a Premier League clash against Aston Villa a week on Sunday at Goodison Park as well as a trip to Fulham on January 30. He will also miss the replay of this fixture in between.
Everton and Palace, who played out a distinctively more entertaining five-goal affair in the league at Selhurst back in November, will contest their replay later this month. That means both teams will be in the fourth-round draw on Monday night.