O'Neill backs Jets' Hoffman over red card

Despite his A-League send-off, Jet Jason Hoffman (L) has been backed by Sydney FC's Brandon O'Neill.
Despite his A-League send-off, Jet Jason Hoffman (L) has been backed by Sydney FC's Brandon O'Neill.

Brandon O'Neill has leapt to the unlikely defence of Newcastle's Jason Hoffman after his dubious A-League red carding - however it's unlikely to count for anything.

The Jets were left a man down for the final 21 minutes of their crucial 1-0 loss to Sydney FC on Saturday night after Hoffman was sent off for kicking out at O'Neill.

Replays showed Hoffman made superficial contact with O'Neill while lying on the ground and the Sky Blues' midfielder said the incident wasn't worthy of a red card.

"No, I didn't," O'Neill said when asked if felt like he was kicked.

"I think he was just on the ground and I was just trying to get the ball.

"He might have misconstrued me stepping over him to do something - I'm definitely not that sort of person. Hoffy's definitely not that sort of person. He didn't really make contact with me.

"Personally, I don't think it was a red card."

Mark Bosnich questioned why the decision was not reviewed by the VAR and said the standard of officiating was "eroding the whole credibility of the league".

Despite the contentious nature of the call, the Jets said they had no avenue to appeal Hoffman's one-game suspension - to be served during Wednesday's clash with Central Coast.

Even if they did, Hoffman was already sitting on one yellow card and would have received a ban had he received another.

Coach Ernie Merrick said Hoffman was really annoyed and denied lashing out. However, he will be forced to watch from the sidelines at a time when the Jets' season is on the line, sitting 10 points behind sixth-placed Adelaide.

O'Neill said that had referee Adam Fielding asked for his opinion of the incident on the field, he would urged him not to send off Hoffman.

"A little bit surprised," O'Neill said.

"Unfortunately, if you're on your back and your foot is raised, it probably doesn't look good. But if the ref came and asked me about it, I would have been honest and said he didn't really make contact.

"Whether there was intent there, I'm not too sure. But I was ready to start up the play again. Personally, I don't think there was much in it."

Australian Associated Press