Scottish Premier League

Boss McInnes stands by Pawlett

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Mon, 06 May 2013 12:15:00

Gianfranco Zola is ready to pick up his Watford players as they look to recover from their promotion setback with play-off success.

The Hornets fell to a 2-1 home defeat at Leeds on Saturday which paved the way for Hull to pip them to the final automatic spot.

Zola admitted that results had delivered a hammer blow to his players' morale but that they will be ready for their play-off semi-final first leg against Leicester on Thursday.

He told the Independent: "I know how tough this is for all of my players. Everyone is gutted.

"It's not a nice feeling to know you came so close and then right at the end to see things go wrong, but that is football.

"You just have to stay positive. It is deflating, but we have a good bunch here."

The Italian continued: "Not a lot of people get two chances at promotion, two bites at the cherry, but we have that. Now we have to go back and see if we can do it that way."

"I can assure you we are not going to approach the play-offs feeling sorry for ourselves, otherwise we will concede too much advantage to our rivals. We will do everything possible to make sure they are up for it."

Pawlett was criticised by Brown after appearing to go down easily following a tackle by Dark Blues defender Lewis Toshney as he won a second-half penalty at Dens Park on Sunday.

Niall McGinn rammed home the spot-kick to secure a 1-1 draw for his side.

As a result, Dundee were left seven points adrift at the bottom of Scottish Premier League with just six to play for.

Brown subsequently hit out at both Pawlett and referee Alan Muir, claiming the player had "cheated" and that the decision was a "disgrace".

Pittodrie boss McInnes, however, said: "I was 80 yards away and I thought it was a penalty. I saw the claim from my players at the time, the referees is 10 yards away and the linesman probably closer.

"I think Peter reacted well and showed good pace to a ball that is alive in the box. For me, the big boy Toshney came in and tried to slow down at the last minute but was a bit hasty in his challenge and for me he has caught Peter, there is definite contact and it is a penalty kick and I think it is a right decision."

Brown was joined in his stinging rebuke by Dundee keeper Steve Simonsen, who tweeted after the game: "Having seen the incident again I've changed my mind, we were mugged ?diver ?cheat don't blame the ref he was conned!"

But McInnes was adamant his player had been fouled.

He added: "I can understand there is a lot of emotion, we felt it as soon as we drove into Dundee.

"They made a huge effort even to take it to this stage and I think Dundee would admit themselves they have had the benefit of a few decisions as we all do over the course of the season.

"But for me I thought it was a penalty at the time. I would need to look more closely at it. I know Peter has had instances in the past when this has been aimed at him but for me, there was definitely contact and I think it was justified it was a penalty kick."

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