Eoin Bradley's likely ban excessive, insists Crusaders' Colin Coates
Colin Coates says Eoin Bradley deserved his dismissal on Friday night but he does have sympathy with the Glenavon hitman regarding the length of ban he is expected to serve.
Referee Raymond Hetherington showed Bradley a straight red card in the 82nd minute of the 1-1 draw at Seaview after the visiting goalscorer clashed with the Crues skipper.
The dismissal meant Bradley was banned for last night's game against Glentoran but the alleged headbutt also carries a further six-game suspension - a huge blow to the Lurgan Blues.
Coates was shown a yellow card for the same incident and after the game Bradley said he felt the defender over-reacted but the six-times capped Northern Ireland international feels Hetherington had no option but to brandish a red card.
"There were words exchanged between us and Eoin had tried to catch me with an elbow and missed," said Coates. "He pushed his head into me which is something you cannot do. The ref called it right. Players know you can't get away with that.
"It's happened to us before when Jordan Owens was sent off against Linfield and myself and Miguel Chines were banned for a few games over an incident which you could call handbags.
"But I have a lot of sympathy with Eoin because he's likely to get hit with a seven-game ban, one automatic plus the other six and it's a heavy punishment. There can be no lasting damage on a player after the incident but the suspension can be excessive.
"It's a big loss to Glenavon and it doesn't do us any favours as he's the focal point of their attack and he'll not be able to hurt our rivals."
Linfield's 2-1 defeat at Portadown on Friday enabled the champions to move seven points clear at the summit, with a game in hand. Cliftonville, who are nine points adrift of the leaders, make the short trip to Seaview on Saturday.
"All we can do is try to win the games and make it more difficult for our rivals to catch us," added Coates. "Saturday's game has a do or die feel to it for the Reds so they will be highly motivated and on a high after winning the League Cup but we have been playing well and I think we have shown more consistency than last season and our points tally backs that up.
"You've got to battle for everything right to the end like we did at Portadown when we got a late winner. We had the chances to beat Glenavon on Friday but it could prove to be a valuable point against a strong team. A draw is not a setback unless you draw a few in a row."
Glenavon have called on supporters to follow the team in the right manner ahead of Saturday's mid-Ulster derby at Mourneview Park.
Following disturbances on Boxing Day, the Safety Certificate issued to the club by Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council has been amended to reduce the capacity allowed in the Crescent Stand.
Fans are reminded that alcohol, glass containers, glass bottles, fireworks and flares are prohibited from all public areas within the stadium.
The PSNI will deploy four uniformed 'spotters' who will be equipped with hand held video recorders for the purpose of gathering evidence against those engaging in criminality and/or anti-social behaviour.
Gareth McKeown will take legal advice before deciding whether to appeal his suspension and ban for a breach of the Irish FA's betting rules.
The Carrick Rangers defender has been banned for the rest of this season and handed a £1,000 fine. McKeown, who admitted the breach at a disciplinary hearing, said: "I want to appeal the decision but I'll consult with the solicitor to assess the situation."