K rock Football

Middleton in the clear

Will Middleton in action for Bannockburn. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

BANNOCKBURN midfielder Will Middleton has been found not guilty of an incident that left Werribee Centrals co-captain Matt Miller with a broken jaw.

Middleton, who pleaded not guilty, was charged with conduct unbecoming after an investigation request by the Centurions following the fiery clash between the two clubs at Galvin Park on May 1.

In a hearing that lasted more than 90 minutes on Tuesday night, Middleton convinced the tribunal panel of Paul Evans (chair), Rob Carter, and Rebecca Kerwan he wasn’t responsible for Miller’s injury. which will see him sidelined until mid-July

Footage from the match showed Middleton getting his kick away while being tackled by Miller, with the ball’s flight followed around 30m up the ground.

It then cuts back to Miller on his hands and knees, grabbing at his face.

The former Leopold star told the tribunal he is still on soft food and is taking pain relief at least once a day after undergoing surgery earlier this month to have a plate and four screws inserted after suffering a crack through the jaw.

Miller said he felt contact twice to his jaw, but when asked how he sustained the injury, he replied, “I’d just be guessing”.

Werribee Centrals reserves player Luke Gibbs gave evidence via phone, telling the tribunal he was 15-20m from the alleged incident and had a clear view.

He said after Miller had laid the tackle, Middleton “turned and gave him a jab to his right cheek”, labelling the force a “five or six out of 10”.

Middleton told the tribunal he was tackled as he kicked the ball and “kept going forward to the next contest”.

He said he only realised Miller was injured after the ball went out of bounds further up the ground, and he turned back to see a trainer assisting him.

Bannockburn team manager Rob Turnley also gave evidence, and he told the tribunal he was behind the incident and saw Miller tackle Middleton.

However, he also denied the allegation that Middleton turned and struck Miller.

After around seven minutes of deliberation, the tribunal returned a not guilty verdict.

Meanwhile, Thomson co-coach Sam Jacka is free to play in Saturday’s must-win clash with Belmont Lions after having his suspension downgraded to a reprimand.

Jacka was offered a one-week ban for rough conduct on Geelong West’s Joseph Bangura during Saturday’s clash at Godfrey Street.

However, Jacka’s plea for a reprimand after pleading guilty was granted.

Twitter: @tom_king79