Tale of two refs leaves Swindon smiling & seething
Town fan Nick Judd reflects on two refereeing displays that left little to be desired...
If I failed to do my job properly IÃ¢ÂÂd be suspended or fired, so why is it that referees continue to get away with embarrassing performances week in, week out?
The level of officiating in League 1 is about as good as the football on display... good in parts but largely inconsistent. You think decisions are contentious in the top flight? Come and watch a game in the nether regions of the football pyramid where thereÃ¢ÂÂs no media scrutiny.
Granted, bad decisions are a key ingredient of football no matter what the level Ã¢ÂÂ if referees got it right all the time, thereÃ¢ÂÂd be nothing to talk about Ã¢ÂÂ but IÃ¢ÂÂve seen two game-breaking (and potentially season-breaking) decisions in four days, and both at the same ground!
Firstly, a decision so bad, bank chief executives would be proud.
The culprit, a Mr A Hall Ã¢ÂÂ almost what he was being called by Town fans by full time Ã¢ÂÂ who awarded Hartlepool a stoppage-time penalty (Yes, another late goal) on Tuesday night.
To everyone's disbelief, Hall penalised, central defender, Jerel Ifil, for the use of a high boot on David Foley on the edge of the danger-zone.
Up stepped Ben Clark to squeeze the ball in between, goalkeeper, Peter Brezovan's grasp and the inside of the post. One-nil, game over and Hartlepool six points clear in the relegation battle.
Ã¢ÂÂThe referee wants to brush up on his rules because itÃ¢ÂÂs absolutely never a penalty in a million years,Ã¢ÂÂ fumed manager Danny Wilson, understandably.
Ã¢ÂÂIt was a very poor decision to give. ItÃ¢ÂÂs stunned everybody in the ground, including the Hartlepool players themselves.Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂ
Also stunned were the 6,582 fans inside the County Ground four days earlier.
Those whoÃ¢ÂÂd travelled from Scunthorpe, and no doubt paid ÃÂ£100+ to come and watch their team, will have felt just a tad hard-done-by when the game became a non-entity when two red cards for Scunny - who had been 2-0 up and dominating - put Swindon firmly in the driving seat.
It all kicked-off with an x-rated challenge from David Mirfin in the first half that, apparently, only warranted a yellow card. He clattered Michael Timlin to the extent that the diminutive playmaker crumbled like a doll being tossed into a toy box.
However, to make amends, the referee later sent off Cliff Byrne. A late challenge, yes, but not a dirty one. But the whistle-blower may have been thinking about the red card he arguably should have, but didn't, dish out earlier.
The visitors' real problem arose when Mirfin was later dismissed for a clumsy challenge. With 10 men, the Iron would probably have held on for a better result than the 4-2 defeat that followed. With nine men it was no contest. Not that IÃ¢ÂÂm complaining!
The man in the middle on this occasion was a Mr C Sarginson. And a quick look at his record alongside HallÃ¢ÂÂs this season finds that they have collectively brandished 153 yellows and 10 reds in 45 games.
I just hope the referee inspectors sat next to me in the crowd took note; it wasnÃ¢ÂÂt the players being booed at the final whistle on either occasion.