West Bromwich Albion boss Tony Mowbray has sprung to the defence of football's hardmen following a flurry of red cards in recent weeks.

Baggies defender Paul Robinson's earned his second early bath of the season in the victory at Hull City on Saturday.

The left-back was rightly booked for a crude tackle on Richard Garcia in the first half, a challenge which may have drawn a straight red card from some referees, but he was harshly treated in the second period when an innocuous tackle on substitute Frazier Campbell resulted in a second yellow card, meaning he will now serve a two-game ban starting with tomorrow's FA Cup third round replay with Charlton Athletic.

Mowbray was one of football's men of steel during his playing days with Middlesbrough and Ipswich Town. As a manager he is a devoted advocate of the beautiful game, a worshipper of wonderful football and a passionate protagonist of a passing style.

However, he still feels there is room in modern football for the tough-tackling type of player but believes modern refereeing is rob-bing the game of all-action battlers like Robinson.

He said: "Because of the culture of the game these days we did a lot of work last week on playing 11 against 10 in training. I have noticed there is almost a sending-off every game now.

"It is a shame that competitive players are being removed from the pitch. There have been too many sendings-off for tackles that shouldn't be red cards.

"I saw Paul's second tackle because it happened right in front of me and it wasn't late or high. The referee made the decision and we have to abide by it.

"It was a difficult day for the officials because of the atmosphere in the stadium, but in my opinion he got that one wrong. We will suffer that later on but right now I am just pleased with the three points."

While the victory stopped a sequence of three away games without a win and lifted Albion back to the summit of the Coca-Cola Championship, Mowbray was unimpressed with some of his side's defending and said there was still plenty of work to be done on the training ground.

He said: "It wasn't a particularly good performance from us. We have a lot of improving to do.

"We have to keep going but we have to do a lot better then we have shown at Hull.

"We can score goals and have an obvious threat at the top end of the pitch. If teams come at us too much then we can score goals.

"Defensively I think we have massive amounts of work to do. We faced a little bit of adversity at the end and I was delighted with how they dug in. However, teams create too many chances against us and get the ball into our box too often. We have lots to work on but there were plenty of positives."

While Mowbray may be concerned about some of the defensive aspects of Albion's play he knows Albion's cutting edge in front of goal is a major factor in their strong league position. As well as Kevin Phillips' 16 goals this season, substitute Roman Bednar grabbed his eighth of the season in just eight starts, while Ishmael Miller and Craig Beattie have also got healthy goals-to-games ratios.

He said: "I thought we were on top so much in the first half that we were pretty comfortable and perhaps should have had a third goal. We knew we could break away on them and were a real threat.

"You have to give Hull a lot of credit for sticking at it and being very competitive. They made life very difficult for us and put lots of balls in the box, which asked questions.

"It was also pleasing to see a cutting edge that ultimately led to the third goal. It is nice to have the options of Bednar coming off the bench to replace the likes of Miller and Phillips. That was decisive."