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25th Jan 2023

“Baffling” – Referee sends off wrong Bolton player after low-blow punch

Callum Boyle


Dion Charles was sent off instead of Elias Kachunga

Bolton’s League One clash against Forest Green Rovers was marred on Tuesday night after the referee sent off the wrong player.

Wanderers took the lead after six minutes, courtesy of Dion Charles, after he met the end of Gethin Jones’ in a perfect start for the hosts.

But shortly after Charles found himself in the midst of controversy after he was mistakenly sent off in the 28th minute by referee, Tom Nield.

Charles, as well as everyone else in attendance at the Bolton University Stadium, were left confused until a replay of an off the ball incident explained what had happened.

Moments before Charles’ sending off, his teammate Elias Kachunga – who wears the number 24 shirt – was caught by the cameras appearing to throw a punch towards Forest Green defender, Brandon Cooper.

Play was shortly stopped to allow Nield to discuss with the linesman what they had – or hadn’t – seen. The League One official then bizarrely identified Charles as the guilty member and gave him his marching orders.

Even Bolton questioned the decision on their club’s Twitter account. They said: “Dion Charles has been sent off. Some confusion around the ground, we’re not sure what’s happened there!?”

While some found the funny side, Bolton boss Ian Evatt was left stunned by the decision.

“We cannot deny that Elias has let everybody down, showing that lack of discipline is not acceptable and he’s apologised to the group,” he explained.

“For the linesman to spot it is a good spot but then to get a player involved and sent off who was 15 yards away from the incident is baffling.

“There is enough finance in the game for us to be able to have VAR for every division in the English pyramid. This is equally important to us as it is to any Premier League team.”

Despite being a man down for the best part of an hour, the 10-men of Bolton were able to hold on and remain three points behind fourth-placed Derby County.

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