As I sit watching the Chelsea game, the commentator says “we haven’t talked about the referee much this game and that can only be a good thing”. Sadly after last night I will be writing a lot about the referee.
Now we are constantly reminded by the media, governing bodies and several managers on a weekly basis, that referees do a hard job. That of course is true and more still needs to be done when players surround referees, beg for the opposition player to get a card and cheat the opposition by diving.
However, last night I witnessed possibly one of the worst, if not the worst, refereeing display in my entire life. Some may say that I am wearing my blue and white tinted specs, but I can categorically tell you I am not. Roger East (who actually took charge of our play-off final) spoiled what was a very good game, with some baffling decisions from start to finish.
I won’t bore you going through every single one of them but I shall give you my top 5. (There were many more)
- The penalty – On instinct I though Joel Lynch won the ball, replays show he clearly won the ball. Horrible decision
- Novak’s yellow card – After only ten minutes he booked Novak for a small coming together when Novak pulled out of the challenge, Formica dived and East brought out a card. Crap.
- Ward tackled by the Blackburn right back and Mr East gives Blackburn the throw.
- Ward running at full pelt down the win is cynically brought down by Dickson Etuhu, no card even though it should have been, if not for challenge but persistent fouling.
- Formica diving – Never except Luis Suarez have I seen such blatant diving and never have I heard a player booed for several minutes every time he touched the ball, should have been booked.
Of course Mr East was joined by his linesman in giving some howlers. Firstly, Blackburn’s first goal appeared to be offside. Now there is always conflicting reports from fans, but those who were in line said it looked off, so until otherwise proven I will side with them. Secondly, Danny Ward had his shot blocked by a last ditch tackle and the lino gave a goal kick! Honestly, it was beyond a joke, luckily for once in the game Mr East gave the correct decision.
The only thing I will thank the officials for is making another talking point post-game except Jordan Rhodes. Whilst many Town fans still adore him, there were grumblings from certain fans when he appeared to celebrate his goal. Without wishing to add fuel to the fire, I think Town fans need to move on. Yes let’s thank him for his goals which undoubtedly got us promotion last season, but also remember that Jordan is now just another footballing mercenary who made a sideways move in order to improve his bank balance. He always meant a lot more to us than we did to him. Dare I say it some Town fans are still pining over him like they would an ex-partner, personally I would rather join in with the chant “he only went for the chicken”, the highlight of my night. (Barring Novak’s second goal)
Anyway, I was expecting us to be comprehensively beaten, especially given Saturday’s dire performance against Bristol City and still no Beckford or Vaughan. No, we came out and actually looked good on the ball, KEEEEF and Adam Clayton were fantastic in the centre of the park and were the spark we really needed. It still shocks me Leeds let Clayton go and for a smallish sum at that, he is class.
Despite a barrage of long shots by Blackburn that kept Alex Smithies on his toes, we managed to take the lead with a scrappy goal. Again Ollie Norwood put in a delicious ball from a set piece, which Lee Novak finally managed to convert. 1-0 up and quite comfortable in a close matched first half where neither side really had any clear cut chances. That was until a long ball over the top led to our back line looking for an offside decision that never came and a certain Jordan Rhodes calmly finishing to make it 1-1.
Even in the second half we looked comfortable until we got hit on the break through one of the Olsson twins. (Mary-Kate or Ashley I’m not quite sure) Peter Clarke was caught on his heels, Lynch made a wonderful challenge and the ref gave a shit decision, penalty. Danny Murphy never misses, 2-1.
On came Danny Ward and Alan Lee as we tried to get something out of the game and boy did they make a huge difference. Clayton was brilliant in midfield and linked well with Ward but big Al up top made the difference, hassling the Rovers players in the air and doing a better job of holding the ball up than Novak had. In fact I thought Lee had equalised when he got on the end of a Clayton cross, only to see Paul Robinson make a marvellous save.
Of course Blackburn were dangerous on the break and Smithies made two fine saves to keep us in with a shout. That shout came with the last kick of the game when Etuhu headed the ball into the path of Novak who bundled the ball past Robinson. A deserved goal not only for Town but for a player who wasn’t fit enough to play, but did anyway as his team needed him. I still have my concerns about Novak’s ability at this level, but you can’t question his heart and desire and every team needs a player like him. He’s more than a good enough back-up and option to have at this moment in time, especially for a team finding its feet at this level.
I must admit I have never celebrated a draw (and boy are we used to them) like that before, the whole of the Kilner Bank was up on its feet applauding and singing, but it felt like a win especially as it felt like we were against 12 men. The ref did ruin the game and it’s not often the mild mannered Simon Grayson comes out with a comment like this. “The referee got the penalty decision totally wrong and I thought he was very poor.” A draw was probably a fair result, but I still can’t help but feel cheated.
Blackburn were a decent side, certainly not the best I’ve seen so far this season, but they do have a lot of quality. Sadly, the manner in which the likes of Formica and Rochina threw themselves to the ground was disgraceful. Also since when did Blackburn fans become all arrogant and think they were MASSIVE?! Yes you can try and say what you want about taking Rhodes from us but we’re £8million better off and you are stupid enough to pay him 40 grand a week. I think they seem to forget the predicament they are in, especially with their owners and the shambles of the Steve Kean situation and the way Henning Berg has been appointed as the manager after his comments in May. (the word hypocrite spring to mind.)
Ah well. Onwards to Barnsley on Saturday for what could be a rather tasty Yorkshire Derby, let’s hope we can rediscover our form.