Bennett In The Middle For Saints Clash

Last updated : 08 January 2004 By Brian Cartlidge

The Orpington official was last seen at St. Andrews in Blues' 2-0 win against Portsmouth in September when Aliou Cisse was shown a yellow card.

Saints fans last sighting of Mr Bennett was in their 2-0 win against Blackburn in October at St. Mary's when he sent off Rovers striker Andy Cole.

So far this season Mr Bennett has officiated in ten Premier League games dishing out 31 yellow cards and sending-off 5 players.

Ironically Mr Bennett was in charge of the same game at St. Andrews last season when Saints boss Gordon Strachan critisised him, claiming he had allowed Blues striker Christophe Dugarry to influence the game.

"My players at times couldn't handle his (Dugarry's) ability but I thought his personality was too much for everybody," the Saints boss told the press after the game last April.

"The referee called for Dugarry to come 20 yards towards him. He refused to go and the ref went and saw him. That tells you what type of mentality you are dealing with.

"I've seen Clive Thomas make Kenny Dalglish walk 20 yards to him but that's not what happened.

"I thought it affected the game in terms of what you could get away with. But I reiterate he was the best player on the pitch and it was a world-class performance."