Matt Ritchie has revealed that he was on penalty duty on Saturday before being substituted. Kenedy had his last-gasp spot-kick saved by Cardiff keeper Neil Etheridge which meant we had to settle for a solitary point, instead of all three.
The former Bournemouth winger was substituted on 70 minutes because he was on a yellow card, and the 28-year-old said he understood why he was replaced by Rafa Benitez:
“If I’d been on the pitch, I would have been taking it, but that’s how it goes,” Ritchie said of the penalty. I was obviously on a booking and I had to play right-back, so the manager was probably hoping I didn’t get sent off.”
“He made the decision to take me off, which I understand. It was frustrating to see the penalty saved, but sometimes that’s just the way things go. You can’t score all of them.”
Fans will be left wondering what might have been, though, if Ritchie had stayed on the pitch. Whether he would have done better than Kenedy, we will never know.
Still, in the context of the match, I think Rafa made the right decision. With Javier Manquillo having gone off injured and Isaac Hayden having been sent off, reinforcing the right-hand side with Jacob Murphy was the sensible call.
We couldn’t take the risk of Ritchie fouling someone and taking us down to nine men. We still came out with a draw and while it still stings that we didn’t take the opportunity to win, it could have been a lot worse.