Sadly, in three games over the weekend, I witnessed three major errors on penalty kick decisions.
When managing and coaching referees, I impress on them the need to get the big decisions right.
Robert Madley, in the closing minutes of the Tottenham Hotspur versus Leicester City match, wrongly awarded a penalty kick, judging that Leicester’s Nathan Dyer had handled the ball. The incident in the 88th minute gifted a draw to Spurs – Dyer had not deliberately handled the ball, and the Foxes had every right to be aggrieved.
Michael Oliver is one of our top referees but, in his game, he failed to award a penalty kick to Aston Villa when a Wycombe Wanderers defender grabbed hold of Micah Richards. It was a blatant penalty and I would ask whether the assistant was consulted.
Later in the game, however, Oliver was in a great position to see Aston Villa’s Ashley Westwood illegally use his arm on an opponent, and had the bravery to point to the spot.
Craig Pawson was appointed to Chelsea versus Scunthorpe United and, once again, his inability to apply some dynamic sprinting left him exposed.
Pawson missed a trip that should have resulted in the awarding of a penalty to Scunthorpe. If you adopt a static position in the build-up to an attack you will never achieve the correct viewing angle and proximity to play. Not for the first time, Pawson’s poor game reading and positioning resulted in him missing a big decision. On this occasion you could not expect the assistant referee to overcome this error.
In all three of these decisions, the use of a video referee would have seen these injustices avoided.
To end on a positive note, I offer my congratulations to referee Iain Williamson who showed great skill and patience, giving Eastleigh’s ground staff every opportunity to ensure that their game against Bolton Wanderers could go ahead. The fans who had helped prepare the pitch were duly rewarded with an entertaining encounter that was well officiated by Iain and his colleagues.
When I was PGMOL General Manager I was unable to persuade Iain to join the Select Group of referees. He was, and remains, a top performer.
Well done Iain – you were the top referee in this round of the FA Cup, the greatest Cup competition in the world.