Sunderland tight-lipped over Arsenal Ladies star’s online attack on Holmes

Abby Holmes
Abby Holmes
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SUNDERLAND Ladies are staying tight-lipped over the storm which has erupted following Kelly Smith’s online attack on defender Abby Holmes.

Smith launched a bitter assault yesterday after being ruled out for “three to four months” following ligament damage in her right leg.

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

Kelly Smith

The Arsenal legend had been brought down in the area by the defender 18 minutes from time in the Women’s Super League 1 match at Borehamwood.

Smith was stretchered off, while Holmes was sent off by referee Stuart Franklin and received a one-match suspension.

The England player has publicly accused Holmes of trying to do her “serious damage”, called the challenge “disgraceful” and said the defender is “clearly not good enough to be playing at this level”.

An SAFC spokesman told the Echo that the club would be making “no comment”.

However, while the powers that be at the Stadium of Light may be keeping their counsel publicly, they could well be asking the Football Association to take a look at Smith’s blog, which was published yesterday.

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.”

She went on: “She’s clearly not good enough to be playing at this level and, while she gets a three-match ban, I, in effect, get a 15-game ban in the league as well as cup games on top.

“I am totally laid up, can barely move to make a coffee or have a shower and face the mental challenge yet again of recovering from a long-term injury.”

This reporter was covering the game at Meadow Park and saw it, like many observers, as a last-ditch challenge after Smith had opened up the away defence with a one-two.

Yes, it was rash, ill-judged and ugly. In fact, keeper Rachael Laws had a better chance of denying a goal, but, in the heat of battle, Holmes slid in, not out of malice but out of desperation.

There has to be sympathy for the injured player, who is facing another long spell on the sidelines.

But the defender does not appear to have gone out to do “serious damage” and has been punished for the challenge in the form of a red card.

The FA, though, could take a look at this case and Smith could face a probe for bringing the game into disrepute.