Bruce's fury at 'worst ever' penalty decision as Hull City crash 4-2 at Crystal Palace
STEVE Bruce claimed his Hull City side were undone by the "worst penalty decision" he has ever witnessed as Crystal Palace grabbed a 4-2 victory in the Championship promotion battle at Selhurst Park.
City fell to another heavy away defeat last night as Kevin Phillips' hat-trick sent Palace on their way to an emphatic victory in the showdown of two automatic promotion rivals.
Consolations from Jay Simpson and David Meyler sandwiched Wilfried Zaha's solo goal but could do nothing to prevent the Tigers from falling down to third behind Watford.
Bruce offered no excuses for his side's sloppy performance, but hit out at the decision that gave Palace a lead from the spot in first-half stoppage time.
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Glenn Murray's shot was blocked by a diving Jack Hobbs, only for referee Mark Haywood to point to the spot on the advice of his linesman.
"I've got no complaints with the result, they were the better team on the night," said Bruce.
"However, the referee and the linesman, in the first half in particular, practically made it impossible for us.
"The penalty is arguably the worst penalty decision I've ever seen. The referee is 25 yards away from it but he doesn't see it. No one in the ground sees it apart from a linesman who is 55 yards away.
"I've seen it and it's a shocking, shocking decision.
"That gave them the impetus to go on and perform, like any team that gets a goal before half-time."
City's third consecutive loss took the shine off their 5-2 win over Birmingham on Saturday and opened the door for Watford to climb back up to second with a 2-1 victory at home to Sheffield Wednesday.
Palace are now within a point of City in fourth, but draws for promotion rivals Cardiff and Leicester offered a semblance of positivity.
City will watch on at their rivals as they wait for Monday's televised trip to Burnley and Bruce said: "There's still 10 games to go. There's still going to be lots of twists and turns.
"We've been beaten twice by four away from home (after Bolton last month) and that's something we'll have to work on. But we weren't helped in the slightest."
Palace manager Ian Holloway had sympathy for the Tigers when admitting the penalty decision that gave his side a lead in first-half stoppage time had been fortunate.
"We were a bit fortunate to be honest," he said. "Was it a penalty? I'm not sure. It was very harsh.
"But with the attacking players we've got you're going to cause defenders problems. We've got some wonderful footballers.
"We have beaten a very good team and we march on."
• CITY reserves will play host to Hartlepool United at North Ferriby tonight (7pm).
• Gallery: Hull City at Crystal Palace in pictures