Nigel Boogaard says Roy O'Donovan only had eyes for the ball. Picture: Toby Zerna
Nigel Boogaard says Roy O'Donovan only had eyes for the ball. Picture: Toby Zerna

O’Donovan’s ugly lunge ‘fair’: Boogaard

NIGEL Boogaard has defended Roy O'Donovan's shocking challenge in the dying minutes of the A-League grand final, with the Newcastle Jets captain going so far as to say he would have done the exact same thing.

As the extraordinary fallout from Melbourne Victory's controversial 1-0 win over the Jets continues, O'Donovan looks set to be handed a lengthy ban when the match review panel meets late on Monday.

The Jets striker was shown a straight red card for a hideous lunge into the face of Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas.

O'Donovan's raised boot caught Thomas flush in the jaw and the Joe Marston Medallist required extensive treatment on the pitch to see out the remaining minutes of the match.

But Boogaard insists it was a fair challenge, with O'Donovan simply desperate to get something on the ball.

Nigel Boogaard has no problems at all with the challenge. Picture: Getty Images
Nigel Boogaard has no problems at all with the challenge. Picture: Getty Images

"To be honest with you, from where I was - and I was right behind it - the ball is in the air and he's sticking a foot at it," Boogaard said.

"It's a grand final, there are five minutes to go, and Lawrence Thomas has come out and been brave. To be honest I would have stuck my foot at it and all those players in the opposition, if they were 1-0 down, would have thrown themselves at the ball as well.

Lawrence Thomas finished the match with plenty of strapping. Picture: Getty Images
Lawrence Thomas finished the match with plenty of strapping. Picture: Getty Images

"Yeah it looked ugly, but I guarantee you Roy had eyes on the ball. It's probably not the nicest way to end the game."

To O'Donovan's credit he did appear to apologise to Thomas at the end of the match, but that's unlikely to lessen the punishment, particularly as the Irishman has history against him.

He's already served a two-match ban this season for an elbow on Sydney FC's Jordy Buijs and last season was suspended for eight games for a headbutt on Wellington Phoenix's Manny Muscat.

Roy O'Donovan had been struck not long before the incident. Picture: Getty Images
Roy O'Donovan had been struck not long before the incident. Picture: Getty Images

O'Donovan was also on the receiving end of a nasty challenge during the game, when Besart Berisha's flailing elbow accidentally caught him in the face during a goalmouth scramble.

It left the Jets forward with a large swelling under his left eye and he's expected to go for an X-ray to determine if any more damage was caused.

"He saved us earlier in the game, clearing one off the line and copping one to the cheek," Boogaard said.

"He's a tough character, he was never going to go down without a fight. Unfortunately, we probably didn't provide him with enough chances to get him to win the game for us."