CRYSTAL Palace manager Ian Holloway hit out at the referee’s decision to book star player Wilfried Zaha for diving following last night’s 4-1 extra-time FA Cup defeat at Stoke City.

With the game still scoreless, Zaha fell to the floor in the penalty area after a tackle from Andy Wilkinson.

But instead of pointing to the spot, the referee ruled the Palace player dived and produced a yellow card for the winger.

Despite being given two more penalties later on in the game, Holloway was furious at the accusations against his player.

He said: “The thing that saddens me is that the referee gave my player (Zaha) a yellow card after he beat someone and got caught.

“I had to bring Zaha off as his ankle was hurt.

“Did he make that up as well? I don’t think so.

“Wilfried Zaha and I have been labelled cheats by a referee that was quick to make a decision.

“He’s called me a cheat as he’s told my player that they dived, but if I see any of my players diving, I’ll fine them, so they don’t dive.

“My player was given a yellow when he was caught.

“I see it week in, week out in the Premier League,where people are cynical and cheat and dive.

“Wilfried hasn’t got that cynicism.”

When asked whether Zaha’s injury was serious and the speculation surrounding his player, Holloway joked: “He might be out for about six months, so it will stop the media talking about him all the time.

"I’m fed up of reading about him.

“I need to go shopping most weeks for things such as bread and eggs, but you can’t do that in football.

“If you’re a Premier League team and you run out of centre forwards when the window is closed, you can’t go shopping until the window opens again, meaning there’s a mad rush in January.

“So then there’s speculation about who is going where in the window.

“Why put speculation on things when it hasn’t happened yet?

“If something happens, we’ll tell you about it.”

Palace matched their Premier League hosts for long periods and only extra-time goals from Jonathan Walters (2) and Cameron Jerome eventually led to their downfall.

Holloway reserved special praise for his players’ efforts in defeat.

He said: “In reality that would have been two points off of Stoke out of six, a home draw and an away draw.

“Unfortunately it was a cup competition, meaning we had to do another half an hour, which was the last thing any of us needed.

“I was forced to make substitutions, as some of those lads haven’t played at this level for three or four weeks.

“God knows what extra-time has done to us, we’ve just played on a Tuesday night after a long away trip.

“At the end of the game, I would have shaken hands with Tony Pulis, given him the win and got on the bus.

“But, unfortunately my lads had to limp through it and carry on after I’d made all of my substitutions.”

Holloway added: “I need to try and add to my squad.

“Harim Boateng is 17 and made his debut today, I thought he was terrific.

“Matty Parsons has been out on loan at Wycombe and couldn’t get a game, which I can’t understand, as he played brilliantly today at left-back.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Tony Pulis’ team as, by the end of it, they were light years ahead of us.

“That comes through spending money to build a squad and a club, which is terrific to see, and it can be inspiring for Palace.”

Palace return to league action on Saturday when they host former manager Dougie Freedman’s side Bolton Wanderers.

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