Thanks ref

Sheffield United v Torquay United, Chris Morgan and Robert Page
Sheffield United v Torquay United, Chris Morgan and Robert Page

SHEFFIELD United manager Danny Wilson praised his Torquay counterpart Martin Ling and referee Christopher Sarginson for allowing Ched Evans to escape punishment after paying a personal tribute to Gary Speed during Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Bramall Lane.

The Wales striker lifted his jersey to reveal a t-shirt bearing the words ‘Rest in Peace Speedo’ after scoring the first of two goals which saw Wilson’s side set-up a third round tie with Grimsby Town or Salisbury City at the League Two club’s expense.

In normal circumstances, Evans’ actions would have earned him an immediate caution. But with United mourning the death of their former player, coach and manager, Ling intervened to prevent Sarginson from showing a yellow card.

“I thought that was a real classy act from Martin,” Wilson told The Star. “And it was also classy from the ref too because when he realised what was going on he stopped himself from doing it straight away.

“He might get in to trouble for doing that because the laws of the game say Ched had to be booked but I hope he doesn’t.

“The referee was in the ‘professional zone’ when he first came over. The same as everyone has to be when the game kicks-off. But he did what he thought was right and that was good to see.”

With Rene Howe giving the visitors an early lead, United were heading out of the competition until Mark Ellis’ own goal and Evans’ brace sent them through to the next stage before Torquay snatched a late consolation.

“It was fitting that Ched, a Welshman like Gary, was on target,” added Wilson. “It’s amazing how these things often work out. I’ll never understand how or why but it’s almost as if it was written.

“And, credit to Ched, he was confident he’d score because he had that t-shirt on.”

Meanwhile, Wilson explained that a calf injury prevented James Beattie from making his first appearance since re-joining United on a short-term contract.

“James picked-up the problem on Friday and so we didn’t think it was worth the risk,” Wilson said. “James actually admitted he was feeling it a bit and although it’s nothing serious, it would have been silly to put him in and then risk losing him for a few more weeks just for the sake of a run-out.”