Sunderland defender Abby Holmes did not try to do ‘serious damage’ to Arsenal’s Kelly Smith

Abby Holmes
Abby Holmes
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WE’VE all done it.

When I say we, I write wearing my hat as a former full-back who has made a late, last-ditch lunge after being beaten by an opponent.

It was a disgraceful tackle and one fully intended to hurt me


It was a scene played out at Borehamwood last month in the Women’s Super League match when Arsenal sub Kelly Smith got the better of the Sunderland defence.

With the England legend about to pull the trigger, Abby Holmes made a desperate tackle and ended up bringing her down.

Ironically, had she let Smith go, keeper Rachael Laws may well have saved it. But the referee pointed to the spot and sent Holmes off.

Smith was stretchered off and the talented player has had her say on her blog today after revealing she would be out for three to four months after suffering three torn ligaments in her right leg.

She has accused Holmes of trying to do her “serious damage”.

Smith wrote: “I have thought about what to say about this tackle but there is no hiding the fact: the tackle was malicious and designed to do one thing only – to do serious damage.

“I have watched the tackle twice since on video so this isn’t an emotional verdict.

“It was a disgraceful tackle and one fully intended to hurt me.

“I have had a lot of reaction from both my team-mates and others in the game and the verdict is the same: Holmes shouldn’t be playing in this league.”

Sunderland have kept their counsel and have made no comment though it will be interesting to see if they contact the Football Association to look at Smith’s personal attack.

This reporter was at the game and saw exactly what it was – a lunge from a defender desperately trying to stop a player scoring.

Rash? Yes. Ill-judged? Yes. Ugly? Yes. A foul? Undoubtedly.

But a deliberate act of a player trying to hurt an opponent? Absolutely and emphatically no.

Holmes is a defender. Tackling is her job and this one she did not get right.

She has not gone over the top with studs showing.

Smith is frustrated. Of course she is. She’s a footballer who has suffered injury woes in the past.

But this was an accident. Holmes slid in and as the picture Smith tweeted showed, displayed her leg twisting as she fell.

No-one likes to see a player injured. Does anyone go out to deliberately injure another? I’m not so sure, but one thing I’m sure on, Holmes has not tried to hurt Smith.