TOM Ince may want to stop being so honest at Wembley.
Early in the Seasiders’ thrilling triumph at St Andrew’s, Ince charged past left-back David Murphy and into the Birmingham penalty area. But just as he was about to shoot, the defender used his arm to pull Ince back.
Admirably for a 20-year-old, Ince stayed on his feet. But crucially, he lost his balance slightly.
It meant his shot was less accurate and powerful than it might have been had he not been impeded and keeper Colin Doyle made a comfortable save. ‘Penalty all day long’ was the consensus in the press box.
And here lies the crux. Had Ince been a little less honest and gone down, he would have probably won the spot-kick and Murphy – the last defender – may well have been sent off.
Instead he was honest and it backfired.
The irony was not lost on the lad himself.
“Everyone criticises players for diving and going down too easily, and yet when I stayed on my feet I didn’t get it. It is shocking,” said Ince.
“I was really frustrated with that because there were a few times when their full-back pulled me down.
“It was one of those where my legs weren’t taken but it stopped me from having a clean shot, and I told the linesman that.
“I knew it was a penalty and the ref did as well, I think.
“If I wasn’t an honest player I may have gone down and got it. You see people diving all over the TV at the moment.
“I could have gone down and he may have booked me for diving.
“So it is annoying that I was penalised for staying on my feet, but these things happen and what can you do?
You just have to pick yourself up and try to get another chance soon after, then try to bury it before anyone can get near you.
“I am just happy we are through. It was a fantastic night. We battled so hard and we got our rewards.”
It has been a dream season for Ince, who was pretty much unknown a year ago – a member of Liverpool’s reserve team and famous only for having a father (Paul) who also played for the Andfield club, as well as Manchester United and England.
Now Tom is on his way to proving he has just as much talent as his old man.
And he is delighted about the prospect of playing at Wembley.
“I am over the moon and so are all the lads,” he said. “The atmosphere in the dressing room after the game was something else.
“But we aren’t done yet. We’ve got a tough trip to Wembley but we are going there determined to take the game to West Ham.
“A lot of people have written us off this season but once again we have come under the radar.”