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Atkinson takes West Brom game as Brooks pays price
Atkinson takes West Brom game as Brooks pays price
Tuesday, 15th Jan 2013 00:53 by Clive Whittingham

QPR’s regular referee Martin Atkinson is in charge of Tuesday’s FA Cup replay at West Brom, but there has been a controversial change to the listed assistants.

Referee >>> Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire), refereed a 1-1 draw between these two at Loftus Road last season when the R’s had a goal incorrectly disallowed for offside.

Assistants >>> Darren Cann (Norfolk) and Dave Bryan (Lincolnshire) – Bryan is a late replacement for John Brooks who has been dropped for the heinous crime of telling Joleon Lescott to go and thank the Manchester City fans who paid £62 to come and support their team at Arsenal at the weekend. Every day I like football a bit less.

Fourth Official >>> Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire), upset QPR with his handling of key matches against Norwich and Aston Villa last season.

Previously

QPR 2 Fulham 1, Saturday December 15, 2012, Premier League

Rangers were on it right from the first whistle, marching to the tune of the Great Escape which rolled down from the stands at a packed Loftus Road. Within a minute and 30 seconds of the kick off Djibril Cisse had accelerated towards goal onto a through ball from Taarabt and hit the deck in the penalty area after a brief wrestling match with Aaron Hughes. The Fulham man looked unable to cope with his opponent’s pace and the home team screamed for a penalty but referee Martin Atkinson, rightly, waved the appeals away. It looked like six of one and half a dozen of another to me.

The caretaker back at Craven Cottage probably heard the groan that greeted the miss, and I think it affected Mackie for the next ten or 15 minutes at least, but his team mates carried on in the same vein. Taarabt burst past two and shot straight at Schwarzer then when Chris Baird barged over Stephane Mbia as he threatened to run through on goal – a foul that really warranted more than just the ticking off Atkinson delivered – Cisse found the wall with two powerful shots and Taarabt hit a third effort wide via a deflection. Those two were certainly combining better than any other striker partnership Rangers have tried this season.

Ridiculously, considering not only some of the bad challenges he allowed to go without a card or even a warning, Martin Atkinson showed his first yellow of the afternoon to Taarabt for over celebrating. Considering he didn’t remove his shirt, or hurdle any advertising hoardings to get into the crowd, which seems to be the two interpretations of this joyless, draconian, pointless, evil law of the game it seemed even harsher and more pedantic than usual.

That would have lifted the roof off this tiny, atmospheric stadium but the crowd was well into the game by this point anyway and they bayed for blood – or at least a yellow card – as Steve Sidwell hauled down Adel Taarabt and then chopped down Shaun Wright-Phillips without receiving so much as a word on the run from Atkinson. The mood only darkened when the ginger haired Fulham midfielder fell theatrically to ground to win his own free kick at the other end which Mladen Petric – sent on for the ineffective Kieran Richardson - smacked straight at Rob Green.

Taarabt is unplayable when he’s like this, and having nutmegged Sidwell for the umpteenth time to draw a fifth foul of the afternoon from his demoralised opponent even Atkinson was forced to concede defeat in his attempt to allow the Fulham man to referee the game and issued a yellow card that brought a cheer almost as loud as the one that met the second goal. Bizarrely, two minutes later, Ashkan Dejagah committed his first offence since replacing Hugo Rodallega five minutes previously and was booked immediately. Now I appreciate that it’s the seriousness of the offence that determines the punishment, and not the time a player has been on the pitch or the number of previous infringements, but I didn’t think Dejagah’s trip on Ale Faurlin was anything worse than Sidwell had done several times over for the previous hour. Rodallega too had committed three similar fouls in quick succession immediately after half time without being spoken to and yet having done everything in his power not to book two other Fulham players Atkinson was now flashing a yellow card at another for little reason whatsoever and just to really put the tin hat on it all Sidwell then hacked Taarabt to the floor yet again just five minutes after being booked and was once more let off without a word from the official. A poor refereeing performance from an official who really seems to have lost all form and confidence during 2012.

QPR: Green 6, Onuoha 7, Nelsen 7, Hill 7, Traore 7, Wright-Phillips 7 (Fabio 85, -), Faurlin 8, Mbia 8, Mackie 6, Taarabt 9, Ciise 7 (Ferdinand 90, -)

Subs not used: Cesar, Derry, Diakite, Granero, Hoilett

Goals: Taarabt 52 (assisted Faurlin), 68 (unassisted)

Bookings: Taarabt 52 (overcelebrating)

Fulham: Schwarzer 5, Riether 6 (Kelly 45, 6), Hangeland 5, Hughes 5, Riise 6, Duff 6, Sidwell 5, Baird 5, Richardson 5 (Petric 63, 7), Berbatov 6, Rodallega 6 (Dejagah 72, 5)

Subs not used: Etheridge, Senderos, Karagounis, Kacaniklic

Goals: Petric 88 (unassisted)

Bookings: Sidwell 75 (repetitive fouling), Dejagah 77 (foul)

Referee – Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire) 5 Now as I’ve said plenty of times before I’m all for a referee keeping his cards in his pocket and trying to allow a game to flow, staying out of the action and letting the players get on with it, and I presume that’s what Atkinson was trying to do here. What he actually did was create a bit of a farce where Steve Sidwell was allowed to rampage around the field doing pretty much as he pleased while Adel Taarabt and Ashkan Dejagah were immediately booked for much less serious offences. Whether you think he got the Cisse decision right in the opening minute or not – I think he was correct not to give a foul – this was a distinctly average refereeing performance overall.

Stoke 1 QPR 0, Saturday November 10, 2012, Premier League

Of course one thing Rangers could have done without was conceding needless free kicks around their own penalty box. Still, it was hard not to feel sorry for Samba Diakite on the half hour when he was penalised for what looked like a not very well disguised dive by Matt Etherington, making a first start for Stoke since August. Fortunately for Rangers on this occasion Cesar got a firm punch to Whelen’s cross and the follow up shot was blocked away by some desperate defence by Anton Ferdinand.

This wasn’t the first or the last time that I felt referee Martin Atkinson had lazily awarded a free kick because a player had gone over rather than bothering to question whether he’d actually been fouled or not and soon both teams had players hitting the deck under little or no contact at all. Within three minutes Cissé collected the ball on halfway, turned it round the corner into space down the right flank and set off in pursuit of it himself. Andy Wilkinson knew the Frenchman had him for pace and so flung himself to the floor as if Cissé had tripped him while attempting to get around him. He’d done nothing of the sort, the incident was laughable, and yet there was Atkinson again obliging the sinner with a free kick for his troubles. Never mind punishing divers retrospectively, let’s stop rewarding the cheats in the first instance.

Stoke’s best chance of the half came ten minutes before half time. Steven Nzonzi – leggy, physical, impressive – got in round the back of flat footed Faurlin and picked out Crouch with a well placed low cut back. Crouch side footed powerfully towards goal and his shot deflected no more than three inches wide with Cesar well beaten. Rangers cleared the resulting corner and launched a counter attack through Adel Taarabt and Ale Faurlin. The latter was fouled by Nzonzi and then, after a quick free kick had been taken, Taarabt was immediately chopped to the ground on the edge of the area by Walters. It’s this sort of cynicism that Stoke are renowned for and QPR have lacked to their cost since winning promotion 18 months ago. Nobody scores a goal on the counter attack if they’re laid on the ground picking grass out of their teeth. No yellow card from Atkinson for either Nzonzi or Walters needless to say and when Djibril Cissé drilled a tapped free kick low into the wall the home team could reflect on a job well done.

The Londoners had decent cause to be angry with referee Atkinson again before the break. Jon Walters picked up a gash to his forehead amidst another round of penalty box pinball and sat on the turf with blood pouring down his face. This was in clear view of the linesman on that side of the field who is in contact with the referee but nevertheless, despite the edict on head injuries, Atkinson was happy for the game to continue. Stoke were happy too, because despite their team mate being down they had the ball in a decent attacking position and so they pressed on, with Atkinson content for play to continue, and tried to score. When the play was subsequently broken up by Ryan Nelsen the referee then decided, with Stoke previously happy to play on remember and with QPR now in a position to try and exploit a team temporarily reduced to ten men, that the play should be stopped. To make the whole nonsense even more irritating Peter Crouch decided to punt the resulting drop ball out for a goal kick – which Cesar isn’t the best at – rather than knocking the ball back to the keeper in open play.

Stoke: Begovic 7, Cameron 5, Huth 6, Shawcross 6, Wilkinson 7, Whelen 5, Nzonzi 7, Adam 6 (Whitehead 77, 5), Etherington 6 (Kightly 71, 6), Crouch 6 (Jones 74, 5), Walters 5

Goals: Adam 52 (assisted Walters/Crouch)

Bookings: Nzonzi 65 (foul), Whitehead 90 (foul)

QPR: Cesar 6, Bosingwa 4, Ferdinand 6, Nelsen 6, Traore 5, Granero 6, Faurlin 5 (Zamora 77, 5), Diakite 5, Hoilett 6, Taarabt 7, Cissé 5

Subs not used: Green, Hill, Onuoha, Derry, Wright-Phillips, Mackie

Bookings: Diakite 45 (foul), Traore 83 (foul), Granero 90 (dissent)

Referee – Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire) 6 No big decisions to make, and therefore no big decisions wrong, so hard to mark him too harshly. However, I thought this was a pretty mediocre, bog standard performance. He rewarded dives from both sides and made a real hash of the Walters head injury situation before half time.

Bolton 2 QPR 1, Saturday March 10, 2012, Premier League

When they did then beat Bogdan moments later they fell victim to the first in a series of dire decisions from our match referee Martin Atkinson and his two Scouse assistants Bob Pollock and Jake Collin. There were arguments even before the crucial corner was taken – first over whether it was a corner at all as Nedum Onuoha appeared to get the final touch on Joey Barton’s free kick, and then over the placing of the ball with Barton engaging in the latest obnoxious trend of placing the ball outside the corner quadrant for no other reason or advantage than to wind people up. When the set piece was delivered it was met powerfully at the near post by Hill who scored with a thumping header that Bogdan clawed out from two feet behind the line onto the underside of the crossbar.

It was a goal. You could see from the other end of the stadium it was a goal – the very large Hungarian man with the shocking ginger hair and bright pink jumper leaning two feet into his own goal to fish the ball out was a massive clue. Pollock kept his flag down, then lied about there being two players obstructing his view when QPR asked what in the name of all that’s fucking good in the world he was playing at. Unless, a la the Hollywood film, Pollock has a sixth sense and often finds his vision obstructed by spirits of the dead then the only thing in the way here was his own crass incompetence. He’d be up at dawn for 50 lashings if I was in charge.

While the away end came alive with texts from people watching at home confirming an injustice had occurred the game slipped into a monotonous malaise during which Wheater was penalised for pushing as he headed another set piece towards goal, Wright-Phillips dribbled a shot wide of the post and former Swansea midfielder Darren Pratley was booked by Atkinson for a foul on Samba Diakite. That last one is an important moment to make a note of as Atkinson’s steadfast refusal to show Pratley a second yellow card thereafter would also be another key talking point later.

The teams exchanged half chances around the 30 minute mark. Pratley had a long range shot deflect past Paddy Kenny but wide of the top corner then Wheater headed the resulting corner straight to the goalkeeper. The former Middlesbrough defender was then booked for a cynical shirt pull on Djibril Cisse after the Frenchman had skinned him for pace and Bobby Zamora saw a presentable chance in the six yard box taken off his toe as he was about to pull the trigger. No yellow card however for David Ngog who, ten minutes before half time, took a tumble in the penalty area so unconvincing I was ashamed on his behalf.

Clint Hill had been the defender on that occasion, no doubt relieved not to be conned out of a penalty as he had been against Chelsea in January, and he was involved again seven minutes from half time when he was pulled to the ground by Pratley in the left back area. Atkinson somehow decreed that the free kick should go to Bolton.

In stoppage time at the end of the half Diakite, much more composed and impressive than he had been during his disastrous debut against Fulham, went on an enterprising run through the heart of the Bolton team that was interrupted deliberately and cynically by Pratley who grabbed the Mali international’s shirt with both hands and prevented him from continuing with his run. The absolute definition of a yellow card but Martin Atkinson awarded just a free kick and laughed off suggestions that further punishment may be forthcoming. Ha ha ha, yes, very funny indeed.

Things didn’t get better for the officials after half time either. First there was the unprecedented situation of having both the teams on the field, in formation, ready to kick the game off for the best part of two minutes before the referee and his assistants made it back out onto the pitch. I suspect, given the strange sport that we follow, they’re more likely to be hauled over the coals for this than any of the dreadful decisions they made during the game – the match official’s report on the game would have made for interesting reading had, for the sake of argument, two of the players become embroiled in a fight or argument while they were pissballing about doing whatever the hell it was they were doing in the dressing room. Let’s say, for example, that Diakite had come out for the second half angry about the Pratley incident and sought him out for an argument prior to kick off that descended into a bout of fisticuffs. Atkinson would have emerged from the tunnel to find a mass brawl taking place, potentially a player bleeding from the face, and not the first idea what had actually happened or what he could do about it. A disgraceful denigration of duty.

Within 120 seconds of the restart Atkinson and his mates on the touchlines had cocked up again.Djibril Cisse, standing offside, received a deflected pass from Shaun Wright-Phillips and ran through to finish an equaliser off confidently past Bogdan in front of the travelling QPR fans. He was offside, miles offside, by any definition of the law. Jake Collin kept his flag down. I was starting to wonder whether our team of officials actually knew the rules of the sport at all. They were humiliating themselves now.

There was another half chance for Cisse before the hour when Diakite played him in but his shot was too weak to trouble Bogdan, then Ricketts cut in field and made the most of Joey Bartonturning his back on the play to launch a long range effort that skimmed across the roof of the net. Atkinson then kept up his average of one ludicrous decision every ten minutes by waving play on after Ferdinand had been hacked down from behind on halfway then awarding Bolton a free kick and showing Onuoha a yellow card when he did likewise to Pertrov. That was a literally stunning piece of officiating and unfortunately the injury that resulted from it did little to improve what was already Ferdinand’s worst performance for the club.

Three minutes late Diakite was deliberately taken out as he ran through the Bolton midfield again. Let me check my notes to see who committed that foul. Pratley apparently it says here, you may have heard of him before. This was beyond a joke now and Atkinson thought so too – issuing a very stern lecture presumably telling Pratley that he would only be allowed to do that three or four more times at most before he’d speak to him very sternly again.

Having failed, one again, to do his job of officiating the match correctly Atkinson opened a window of opportunity to Bolton manager Owen Coyle who substituted Pratley immediately and replaced him with striker Ivan Klasnic. Klasnic scored at Loftus Road in a 4-0 Bolton win on the opening day of the season and how he cannot get into this team from the start I do not understand. His introduction came about by accident, and wouldn’t have happened had Pratley been sent off when he should have been. Ten minutes later Barton allowed Klasnic to run past him unfollowed, and a porous defence which has conceded at least one per game for 19 consecutive matches parted like the Red Sea to allow him to score the winning goal from Miyaichi’s cute through ball.

Hughes had made changes of his own prior to that, finally sending on Jamie Mackie and Akos Buzsaky for Shaun Derry and Shaun Wright-Phillips. Armand Traore limped off to be replaced by Tae Taiwo in a triple swap. This almost brought about immediate results – Mackie ran with purpose towards the area and fed Cisse who crossed back towards the former Plymouth man who was denied a close range finish by David Wheater’s last ditch header. The ball dropped first to Buzsaky and then to Diakite who had low shots blocked and finally to Mackie who poked it towards the open goal from four yards out but Wheater flung himself in the way to deflect the ball behind and safety. Martin Atkinson awarded a goal kick. As you would expect.

Injury time at the end of the game brought about more farce. Diakite had a taste of the Pratley-type leniency when first he pulled back Ryo Miyaichi and was carded – Miyaichi and Davies were the two stand out performers for the home team – and then he did exactly the same thing again in injury time but was let off without a second yellow.

Then finally, to really put the tin hat on it all, Bolton survived a handball appeal and blatant foul onNedum Onuoha in their own penalty area without punishment. Atkinson brought the low point of his refereeing career to an end moments later. Bolton were out of the bottom three, replaced by their hapless visitors who must now surely be staring the Championship square in the face.

Bolton: Bogdan 7, Steinsson 6, Wheater 6, Ream 5, Ricketts 6, Reo-Coker 5, Mark Davies 7, Pratley 6 (Klasnic 80, -), Miyaichi 7, Ngog 6 (Muamba 89, -), Petrov 6 (Eagles 71, 6)

Subs Not Used: Jaaskelainen, Knight, Kevin Davies, Sordell

Booked: Pratley (foul), Wheater (foul)

Goals: Pratley 37 (assisted Petrov), Klasnic 86 (assisted Miyaichi)

QPR: Kenny 6, Onuoha 6, Ferdinand 5, Hill 6, Traore 6 (Taiwo 79, -), Barton 5, Diakite 6, Derry 5 (Buzsaky 79, -), Wright-Phillips 4 (Mackie 80, -), Cisse 7, Zamora 7

Subs Not Used: Cerny, Gabbidon, Bothroyd, Young

Booked: Onuoha (foul), Diakite (foul)

Goals: Cisse 48 (assisted Wright-Phillips)

Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire) 0 Shambolic. Not a single decision correct. Couldn’t even make it out on time for the start of the second half.

Arsenal 1 QPR 0, Saturday January 31, 2011, Premiership

QPR’s encouraging start had rather melted away by this point, and the difficulty in trying to play Arsenal at their own passing game was shown when Joey Barton collected a seventh yellow card of the campaign for a foul on Mikel Arteta that actually came when Rangers were in possession and trying to play out from the back.

Referee Martin Atkinson had officiated quite calmly to this point, despite the best attempts of both linesmen who seemed incapable of getting even the simplest decision correct. Further incompetence from them ten minutes before half time saw Armand Traore rewarded for another fine piece of defending on Walcott with the award of a corner when it was clearly a goal kick. The subsequent delivery fell to Laurent Koscielny on the edge of the area and he cracked a loose ball towards goal but saw his shot palmed away by Luke Young for what should have been a penalty kick but Atkinson, five yards away, waved play on. A further handball penalty appeal moments later, again against Young, was rightly ignored.

Arsenal rightly felt aggrieved by this, but seemed to lose their composure as a result. Quick fire bookings followed for Vermaelen for pulling Wright-Phillips back during an attack that Atkinson had initially allowed to proceed regardless, and Johan Djourou for kicking Joey Barton.

Walcott picked himself up to produce his unbelievable one on one miss but four minutes later, on the hour, Wright-Phillips’ brain explosion handed Arsenal the killer goal. It was a pass played without looking, into the right back area where no right back was stationed. It was a slack piece of play, coming just after Arsenal had replaced the injured Vermaelen with Francis Coquelin during a stop start period of the game – concentration was the issue here. Arshavin fed Van Persie and he swept the ball home. A single lapse in thought process in an otherwise improved Wright-Phillips performance and Rangers were behind. It should be noted though that 30 seconds prior to it all, at the other end of the field, QPR had seen a corner awarded as a goal kick to Neil Warnock’s absolute astonishment and fury. You expect better of Wright-Phillips, but you expect better of Premiership match officials as well.

Ale Faurlin’s inconsistent passing form continued as we moved past the 70 minute mark. First he produced a superb through ball for Taarabt who appeared to be hauled back in the area but Atkinson wasn’t convinced enough by a theatrical fall to award a penalty. Then the Argentine carelessly conceded possession and set up an Arsenal counter attack that ended with Ramsey shooting over the bar. Faurlin is a man often doing two jobs at the heart of the QPR midfield at the moment with Barton in poor form, he desperately needs a Premiership quality Shaun Derry type player alongside him.

Arsenal: Szczesny 7, Djourou 6, Mertesacker 7, Koscielny 7, Vermaelen 7 (Coquelin 54, 6), Song 6, Arteta 6, Walcott 5 (Gervinho 74, 7), Ramsey 8, Arshavin 5 (Rosicky 67, 6), van Persie 8

Subs Not Used: Almunia, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chamakh, Benayoun

Booked: Vermaelen (foul), Djourou (foul)

Goals: van Persie 60 (unassisted)

QPR: Cerny 7, Young 7, Connolly 6, Gabbidon 6, Traore 7 (Orr 77, -), Faurlin 6, Barton 6, Mackie 5 (Smith 74, 6), Taarabt 7, Wright-Phillips 6, Bothroyd 6 (Campbell 64, 5)

Subs Not Used: Murphy, Hill, Derry , Helguson

Booked: Barton (foul), Young (foul)

Referee: Martin Atkinson ( W Yorkshire ) 5 Overall the refereeing itself was mediocre. Both sides should have been awarded penalties, Arsenal for the Young handball and QPR for the blatant tug on Adel Taarabt, and the Arsenal goal came when Rangers should have been preparing to take a corner kick at the other end. But on that occasion, and many others, Martin Atkinson was badly let down by two woefully inadequate assistants. This is déjà vous for the Yorkshire official who was in charge at Loftus Road earlier this season when Shaun Wright-Phillips had a goal disallowed for offside incorrectly.

QPR 1 West Brom 1, Saturday December 3, 2011, Premiership

Then, the controversial moment of the game. Three minutes after taking the lead QPR believed they had a crucial second goal that would have set them up for a comfortable afternoon and three points. Rangers strung ten passes together with Faurlin and Barton at the heart of it all again. The Argentinean finished the move with a fine ball in behind the Baggies defence for Wright-Phillips, who’d produced an eye catching turn and dribble earlier in the move, to run onto and finish brilliantly into the top corner. The flag had long since been raised. Incorrectly. Olsson had played Wright-Phillips on, QPR had been conned.

They say these things even themselves up over the course of the season. In this case they almost evened out in a quarter of an hour because later in the half Heidar Helguson picked up the ball in the area, three yards offside at least, but was allowed to continue and chipped an ambitious shot onto the roof of the net.

Mackie smacked a long range shot over the bar on the counter attack and Helguson continued his excellent afternoon’s work with a vital clearing header from the visitors’ first corner of the game as we passed the midway point of the first half. Morrison rode a missed tackle from Barton, who was later subjected to a roughhouse tackle from Jerome Thomas that produced the game’s first yellow card, and shot straight at Cerny.

Referee Martin Atkinson added two minutes on at the end of the half, in which both teams seemed to revel in a farcical, end-to-end 120 seconds of football. First Shaun Wright-Phillips nodded a presentable chance wide of an open goal after Ben Foster had foolishly come out for a high ball he was never going to reach, then Shane Long seized on a long Foster kick and headed for the penalty area with QPR forced to scramble the ball out for a corner. There was still time for a counter attack from that set piece and Jamie Mackie would have run through on goal onto Wright-Phillips’ pass with a better first touch. Then it was time to pause for breath.

West Brom started the second half the stronger of the two teams. Long set about Rangers within the first 60 seconds and fed the ball wide to Thomas who tested Cerny at the near post. Then Morrison crashed to earth in the penalty area looking for a spot kick but his half hearted appeals were ignored by Martin Atkinson.

For all of that though, QPR should have tied the game up three minutes after the break. Steven Reid, rightly picked out as the West Brom weak link in the LFW pre-match preview, was caught in on the ball by Faurlin and Barton then closed down Olsson’s attempt at a clearance. Helguson seized possession and returned it immediately to Barton who drew Foster and then fired wide of the open goal when it seemed easier to score. Reid’s frustration grew when he then picked up a yellow card for chopping down Traore when he seemed to get a piece of the ball.

A goal wrongly disallowed, three absolute sitters missed, other chances left begging - it was impossible not to conclude that we’d seen this film before and knew where it was going to end. QPR did their best for the visitors around the hour by conceding a series of set pieces around the edge of their own penalty box – Dorrans found the wall with a direct one, Gareth McAuley nodded a cross from the Scot wide from a more considered move that involved a flick on from Jerome Thomas. Roy Hodgson sent on Peter Odemwingie for Thomas and Somen Tchoyi for Dorrans as the quest to chase the game became more desperate.

QPR: Cerny 7, Young 6, Gabbidon 6, Ferdinand 6, Traore 7, Mackie 7, Barton 7, Faurlin 8, Wright-Phillips 7, Bothroyd 6 (Buzsaky 74, 5), Helguson 8

Subs Not Used: Putnins, Orr, Hill, Derry , Taarabt, Smith

Goals: Helguson 20 (assisted Barton)

West Brom: Foster 7, Reid 6, Olsson 6, McAuley 6, Shorey 6, Thomas 6 (Odemwingie 65, 7), Dorrans 7 (Tchoyi 78, 6), Mulumbu 8 (Scharner 83, -), Morrison 7, Brunt 7, Long 7

Subs Not Used: Fulop, Dawson, Jones, Cox

Booked: Long, Thomas, Reid

Goals: Long 81

Referee: Martin Atkinson ( W Yorkshire ) 8 Overall I thought the refereeing was very good on Saturday. Atkinson didn’t get a major decision wrong, allowed the game to flow and stayed out of the spotlight for the most part. The problem is the big decision of the match was the Shaun Wright-Phillips offside goal which turned out to be the incorrect decision, made by the linesman on the South Africa Road side of the ground. Points off for that, but not really Atkinson’s fault – perhaps it’s time to introduce linesman ratings to these reports as well.

QPR 2 Man City 3, Saturday November 5, 2011, Premiership

That awesome City starting 11 meant that despite playing at home QPR were as long as 9/1 to win with some bookmakers. Rather unsportingly the William Hill next to Goldhawk Road tube was promoting a “Manchester City to win 4-0, Sergio Aguero to score first” bet in its window – with a depressingly low return for your £10 stake on offer. Last time referee Martin Atkinson was at Loftus Road Rangers were beaten by that scoreline against a meagre Bolton side currently fighting relegation. All informed opinion pointed towards a repeat under the lights and West London fireworks that littered the night sky. Atkinson was the referee for City’s FA Cup final win in May – they’re first trophy for 35 years, in all likelihood the first of many.

QPR were playing very well, and Manchester City responded to this around the midway of the half in the same way Chelsea had done – by losing discipline and conceding silly free kicks. The result was the same as it was against our West London neighbours; a 1-0 lead for the home side. Barry went first, needlessly shoving Faurlin to the ground when the Argentinean had been playing with his back to goal with few options for a pass. Barton took that one quickly, threading a ball through to the edge of the area where Helguson also looked like he’d been chopped down right on the whitewash but Atkinson played on as Wright Phillips tried to scramble a chance with the loose ball. City cleared to the right but then found themselves on the end of another refereeing decision as Jay Bothroydtripped over his own feet and the linesman signalled for a foul. That decisions was clearly wrong, but given that QPR could and probably should have been lining up a free kick on the very cusp of the penalty area City probably thought they’d got away lightly.

QPR were playing very well, and Manchester City responded to this around the midway of the half in the same way Chelsea had done – by losing discipline and conceding silly free kicks. The result was the same as it was against our West London neighbours; a 1-0 lead for the home side. Barry went first, needlessly shoving Faurlin to the ground when the Argentinean had been playing with his back to goal with few options for a pass. Barton took that one quickly, threading a ball through to the edge of the area where Helguson also looked like he’d been chopped down right on the whitewash but Atkinson played on as Wright Phillips tried to scramble a chance with the loose ball. City cleared to the right but then found themselves on the end of another refereeing decision as Jay Bothroydtripped over his own feet and the linesman signalled for a foul. That decisions was clearly wrong, but given that QPR could and probably should have been lining up a free kick on the very cusp of the penalty area City probably thought they’d got away lightly.

Richards had received no reward for his flagrant cheating earlier in the half, and Jamie Mackie got nothing from the match officials for his naïve honesty on the hour. Savic stood off and allowed him to turn, and then lunged foolishly in as Mackie entered the penalty area – as you would expect of young Jamie he stayed on his feet when a penalty would surely have been forthcoming had he gone over. Wolves were left to bemoan the same fate against Wigan on Sunday when Steven Hunt rode a tackle from Ali Al-Habsi but received nothing in return. If we’re to stamp diving out in our game then as well as punishing the perpetrators we must reward the honest players with free kicks and penalties when they do ride challenges that are still fouls.

Mancini slung on Mario Balotelli for Gareth Barry but the controversial Italian succeeded only in collecting a yellow card for diving in the penalty box – the correct decision, but less of a dive than Richards’ embarrassing effort earlier. Neil Warnock responded by sending on Jason Puncehon forJay Bothroyd – an odd change that brought no positive affect at all. Joey Barton was perhaps fortunate to only see yellow for a crude lunge on Silva – a further sign that perhaps the QPR lungs had gone.

QPR: Kenny 7, Young 6, Gabbidon 6, Ferdinand 7, Traore 7 (Hill 90, -), Mackie 7 (Smith 84, -), Barton 7, Faurlin 9, Wright-Phillips 7, Bothroyd 8 (Puncheon 76, 5), Helguson 9

Subs Not Used: Murphy, Orr, Derry , Andrade

Booked: Barton (foul)

Goals: Bothroyd 28 (assisted Barton), Helguson 69 (assisted Traore/Bothroyd)

Man City: Hart 8, Richards 7, Savic 5, Lescott 6, Kolarov 8, Barry 6 (Balotelli 75, 6), Y Toure 8, Milner 7, Silva 8, Aguero 6 (Johnson 68, 6), Dzeko 8 (Toure 88, -)

Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Nasri, Clichy

Booked: Balotelli (diving)

Goals: Dzeko 43 (unassisted), Silva 52 (assisted Dzeko), Y Toure 74 (assisted Kolarov)

Referee: Martin Atkinson ( W Yorkshire ) 8 Refereeing that contributed to the ebb and flow of a tremendous game. Both cards were justified and although City can say the free kick for Bothroyd’s goal should never have been given, and QPR can point to the Jamie Mackie penalty incident, at normal speed at the time neither decision looked wrong. Probably the best refereeing display we’ve seen this season.

QPR 0 Bolton 4, Saturday August 13, 2011, Premiership

Bolton ’s only real threat came from Petrov who lashed a wild long range shot into the Upper Loft. QPR were passing the ball nicely, pressing Bolton high up the field and restricting them to shots from long range. So far, so good and it seemed that the visitors may be getting frustrated when Kevin Davies, already penalised three times, needlessly hacked down Paddy Kenny as he attempted to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick by the corner flag. Davies was given a final warning by referee Martin Atkinson when he really should have been booked, but Kenny was lucky not to fall victim to a Kelvin Davis v Ray Jones type disaster having journeyed that far from goal and taken a risk that the ball had enough pace to go behind.

There was a further stoppage shortly after when Tommy Smith was chopped down by Nigel Reo Coker. The former West Ham man was yellow carded for the tackle, and given that he’d already committed numerous fouls and had hacked into Taarabt just half a second before then lunging in on Smith he can have few complaints. Reo Coker looked to me like somebody who was half a yard off the pace, in the first half at least. He’s been playing reserve team football for more than a year at Aston Villa and I thought you could tell, he was a long way short of his team mates in match fitness and sharpness for me.

Eagles was not a popular figure at Loftus Road last season when twice dived in the area trying to win penalties, but he was genuinely in the wars here. No sooner had he picked himself up from Derry ’s firm challenge than Clint Hill was scything him down as he skipped down the touchline. Hill’s first offence, but still deemed worthy of a yellow card by Martin Atkinson who’d earlier shown leniency with Davies for a worse challenge on Kenny. I actually think Atkinson booked Hill to justify him stopping the play because if he’d allowed it to continue Reo Coker was away and accelerating into space in the penalty area. Not the finest piece of refereeing we’ll see this season.

Sadly, a minute later, the afternoon was to turn sour for QPR and Gabbidon in particular. It started when Kevin Davies was treated to a free kick wide on the QPR left under the slimmest of contacts from Faurlin. Interesting that on Goals on Sunday Davies, a studio guest, laughed this one off before going on to lambast Joey Barton for play acting in the Newcastle Arsenal game and conning a “fellow professional”. Anyway having been duped Rangers didn’t then have to make it quite so easy for Bolton who tapped the free kick short to Eagles for him to drill it low into a six yard box containing not one single Bolton player. Under no pressure and with the ball flying out for a goal kick Gabbidon inexplicably stretched out and slid the ball into his own net. It was the action of a tired player and typified the lethargy and lack of concentration QPR played with from the forty fourth minute onwards. A shambolic goal.

To Buzsaky’s credit he did at least register a couple of efforts on goal. The first, between the third and fourth Bolton goals, came from a direct free kick won by Derry who had gone charging through the heart of the Bolton defence and been upended resulting in a yellow card for Gary Cahill. Buzsaky only found the base of the wall with that poorly struck shot but went closer in stoppage time when he sought out the ball in a penalty box scramble and unloaded a shot on goal that was blocked away to safety.

QPR: Kenny 6, Dyer - (Orr 7, 5), Gabbidon 5, Hall 5, Hill 5, Derry 6, Faurlin 5, Taarabt 6 (Buzsaky 72, 6), Campbell 5, Smith 5 (Helguson 72, 5), Bothroyd 6

Subs: Murphy, Connolly, Agyemang, Ephraim

Booked: Hill 52 (foul)

Red Cards: Hill 90 (violent conduct)

Bolton: Jasskelainen 6, Steinsson 7, Knight 7, Cahill 8, Robinson 6, Muamba 7, Reo Coker 5 (Pratley 83, -), Eagles 6 (M Davies 81, -), Petrov 8, Klasnic 7 (Blake 86, -), K Davies 8

Subs: Bogdan, Alonso, Gardner , Wheater

Booked: Cahill 76 (foul)

Goals: Cahill 45 (unassisted), Gabbidon 67 (own goal, assisted Eagles), Klasnic 70 (unassisted), Muamba 79 (assisted Klasnic)

Referee: Martin Atkinson 7 ( Yorkshire ) One or two things to quibble over – allowing Davies off without a yellow card after he’d committed four fouls and then hacked down Kenny was very generous. To then book Hill for exactly the same type of foul on Eagles when play could have been allowed to continue was inconsistent. Davies went on to con him out of a free kick with an obvious dive in the lead up to the second goal. Other than that, hard to argue with anything else including the Hill red card.

QPR 2 Crystal Palace 1, Saturday March 12, 2011

This game was a slow burner initially. Basking in the early spring sunshine a capacity crowd at Loftus Road was stirred from a malaise brought on by the most horrendous of weeks by a late tackle on Kaspars Gorkss by James Vaughan as the Latvian cleared a ball away down field. A Championship referee may have settled for a free kick and a word on the run, but the Premiership’s top man Martin Atkinson was in town and wasted no time in flashing the yellow card for the first time.

Taarabt was at the heart of the action again just before the quarter hour when he delivered a wonderful cross to the back post where Heidar Helguson had peeled away and seemed destined to score with a diving header but missed the ball altogether. The reaction of the players, and the fact that the ball was so far away from Helguson’s dive, suggests strongly that McCarthy had succeeded in flicking the cross away for a corner with his head but Atkinson awarded a goal kick.

QPR were playing well and looking good for more goals, but the quality of Danns in midfield and the keenness of Vaughan in attack meant Palace always posed a threat of their own when they had the ball in the QPR half. Danns had only a yellow card to show for his first half efforts, the referee taking exception to his late hit on Hill as he cleared the ball in a similar incident to the one Vaughan had been booked for earlier, but looked tidy and threatening whenever he had the ball. Likewise Vaughan, who could perhaps count himself unlucky to be penalised for a sly push in the back of Hall that allowed him to race in behind the QPR defence for what would have been a one on one chance with Paddy Kenny had it not been brought back by Atkinson.

Taarabt is a different physical specimen altogether but he showed tremendous upper body strength to hold off the considerable attentions of McCarthy until the Irish centre back completely lost the plot and hacked his opponent down in the penalty area. This was as clear a penalty as you’re ever likely to see – Rangers have had 12 spot kicks this season, and Palace have conceded a league leading 13. That’s no surprise on either count really because people like Taarabt, Helguson, Routledge, Mackie and Smith are hard working, skilful players who unsettle defenders and force fouls and on the other side of the coin Palace are unfortunately lumbered with a collection of centre backs who are a dire combination of stupid, clumsy and at times, in Claude Davis’ case, violent.

Patrick McCarthy was, is and always will be a dog of a centre back – persistently caught the wrong side of his man despite his years in the game and with a chip on his shoulder a mile wide when it comes to referees. He is the worst, most accident prone defender in this league except for Alex Bruce at Leeds . Week after week you’ll find him trying to retrieve a situation his own goldfish like concentration levels have caused by fouling the player and then screaming at the match officials to try and intimidate them into lenient action. He can perhaps have a case for not being sent off here, as Taarabt was fast running out of pitch and would have done well to score, but how McCarthy, Speroni, Gardner and others thought they had any kind of case to surround referee Martin Atkinson with on the spot kick is beyond me.

Anyway protests lodged and ignored, McCarthy dispatched to the baths, Davis readied to replace Iverson and the whole situation brought under control it was time for the penalty. The unfathomable formula that helps Heidar Helguson and Adel Taarabt work out whose turn it is to do the honours this week came out on the side of the Icelandic striker and he made light work of rolling the ball past a goalkeeper who has caused us untold problems in the past to give Rangers a deserved lead.

The Palace fans at the other end of the ground responded to this by throwing bottles onto the pitch in the general direction of Paddy Kenny as an expression of their own frustration and frankly who can blame them? Three weeks ago similarly aggrieved Millwall fans decided to pelt Middlesbrough goalkeeper Jason Steele and one of the assistant referees with beer bottles during a match at the New Den. So many of them did it in fact that referee Chris Sarginson called a halt to the game and told both managers he was minded to abandon it altogether fearing for his own safety and that of the other officials and Middlesbrough players. The FA, when they weren’t busy terrorising the QPR support last week, ruled that Millwall had no case to answer for this and will face no charges. So there it is lads, precedent set. If you don’t like what’s going on down there on the field then start throwing things at the people doing it – don’t worry about your club getting fined or losing points or playing games behind closed doors because no action will be taken.

It’s the most perverse ruling the fucking idiots running out game have come up with since QPR were fined for having their goalkeeper attacked on the pitch by a Stoke fan at the end of a game at the Britannia Stadium. It will no doubt be reversed at some point in the near future, probably when one of the high profile Premiership players gets smacked in the face by a bottle provoking some mass hysteria in the papers and opinion columns about the lawless society we live in which will then force the FA to come down like a tonne of bricks on whichever club was unfortunate enough to be the home team that day, but in the meantime the potentially lethal precedent stands – you throw what you like lads, there’ll be no punishment coming your way.

Paddy Kenny cleared the penalty area himself, looking for all the world like he was preparing for one of his much sung about parties, while Shaun Derry attempted to calm the supporters of his former club. The stewards, as usual when anything actually needs doing at Loftus Road , did nothing at all.

Perhaps feeling that he’d been a little unkind to the visitors Martin Atkinson offered an olive branch by way of a weak free kick on the edge of the area for a perceived foul on James Vaughan. The free kick was perfectly placed for Darren Ambrose to hit – he may have been in the defensive wall had circumstances worked out differently in the summer – but he couldn’t find the target with a shot from 25 yards.

QPR: Kenny 7, Orr 7, Hall 7, Gorkss 7, Hill 7, Faurlin 8, Derry 8, Smith 7 (Ephraim 86, -), Taarabt 8 (Buzsaky 89, -), Routledge 7, Helguson 8

Subs Not Used: Cerny, Connolly, Hulse, Miller, Chimbonda

Booked: Taarabt (kicking ball away)

Goals: Helguson 20 (assisted Taarabt), 54 (penalty won Taarabt)

Crystal Palace: Speroni 7, Clyne 6, McCarthy 5, Gardner 7, Moxey 6, Ambrose 7, Wright 6 (Zaha 75, 6), Dikgacoi 6, Danns 7, Iversen 6 (Davis 55, 6), Vaughan 7 (Easter 62, 6)

Subs Not Used: Price, Scannell, Counago, Agustien

Sent Off: McCarthy 53 (denying obvious goal scoring opportunity)

Booked: Vaughan (foul), Danns (foul), Dikgacoi (foul)

Goals: Vaughan 40 (assisted Ambrose)

Referee: Martin Atkinson ( W Yorkshire ) 7 The big decision in the game was right – Patrick McCarthy fouled Adel Taarabt in the area and had to go by the letter of the law. However the red card, along with a couple off the bookings, could easily have been dealt with less severely and probably would have been by a referee who does this level on a more regular basis.

Stoke 1 QPR 0, Saturday December 9, 2006

In the 16th minute Stoke cut through down the R's left again and this time there was nothing Royce could do to prevent them taking the lead. Fuller ran in the wrong side of Milanese and the pair pulled and pushed each other for twenty yards until they reached the area and Fuller predictably hit the deck. Referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot before the big Jamaican had even had a chance to complete his first roll.

Higginbotham took his usual penalty - hard and straight down the middle - to put Stoke one up. It was no more than they deserved.

Then a superb inswinging free kick from Mauro Milanese had goal written all over it but Nygaard failed to make contact at the back post and the ball drifted a couple of inches wide. Finally Jimmy Smith looked to be tripped just inside the area but his theatrical fall did him no favours and the appeals were waved away. For me, the Blackstock incident was a better shout and would have been given as a free kick anywhere else on the field, or as a penalty at the other end.

Rangers wouldn't have deserved a penalty equaliser even if they had been awarded. Furlong was introduced for Blackstock and although he looked sharp and got the ball moving a bit the chronic lack of width provided by the formation meant they never looked like scoring and Stoke were always comfortable. Marcus Bignot's mishit cross which Simonsen claimed right under his bar was as good as it got - and there's no way in the world that can be counted as a shot.

Just to infuriate the travelling faithful further the only chance to get a decent cross in the box with this formation was from corners and after taking a dismal short one in the first half, Milanese and Smith did exactly the same in the second half and it was again blocked away without reaching the penalty area. Quickly taken short corners when two on one out wide are a good idea, short corners when Stoke are back and it's two on two by the flag are a stupid, idiotic waste of time, which ironically is what this trip north turned out to be for the QPR fans.

Milanese compounded matters with a yellow card for a cynical handball preventing a Stoke break on halfway. Atkinson allowed an advantage to unfold before returning to book Milanese later. Nygaard was also carded for a clumsy foul on Duberry.

Stoke Simonsen n/a, Hoefkens 7, Duberry 8, Higginbotham 7, Griffin 8,Lawrence 8, Diao 7 (Brammer 80, -), Russell 7, Hendrie 8 (Berger 87, -),Sidibe 6, Fuller 7 (Pericard 74, 4).

Subs Not Used: Sweeney, Buxton.

Booked: Griffin.

Goals: Higginbotham 17 pen.

QPR Royce 7, Bignot 5, Mancienne 7, Stewart 7, Milanese 5,Rowlands 6 (Ward 87, -), Bailey 4, Gallen 5, Smith 6, Nygaard 6 (Baidoo 90, -),Blackstock 6 (Furlong 70, 7).

Subs Not Used: Cole, Bircham.

Booked: Mancienne, Milanese, Nygaard

Ref: M Atkinson ( W Yorkshire ) 4 Clearly knows the score in Stoke: home team win, controversial incidents go their way, everybody goes home happy, nobody runs on the pitch, nobody gets beaten up. I'd have given the penalty to Stoke in the first half - Milanese was the wrong side of his man the whole way and although Fuller went down looking for it a penalty was the correct decision. But at least one, if not both, of the second half incidents involving Smith and Blackstock were penalties as well. Smith fell theatrically, but so did Fuller. You can't even level a diving criticism at Blackstock - that was a stone wall pen. Very home orientated, assisted by one linesman who never put his flag down and one who never put it up. No the best display of officiating you're ever likely to see.

Prior to that he was in charge of a 3-1 defeat at Watford on a Tuesday night in 2005 when Danny Shittu’s last minute goal served as mere consolation only. He refereed us three times in 2004/05 –a 3-0 home defeat by Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup, a 1-1 draw at home to Wolves when Carl Cort equalised late on, and notably a 2-1 defeat at West Ham where Tomasz Repka was allowed to remain on the field despite a horrific two footed tackle from behind on Tony Thorpe that ended Thorpe’s career at QPR and, as it turned out, in the Football League altogether and was one of the worst challenges I have ever seen at a game. Atkinson was also in charge of the infamous game at Wycombe played in a force nine gale during the promotion season when Rangers battled back from two down to draw.

Stats

It’s been a busy season so far for Martin Atkinson with 25 games under his belt already. He booked seven in the Manchester derby, an appointment that signalled a restoration of faith in him after what has been a poor and difficult 2012 overall. He’s booked 97 and sent one off so far this season – an average of 3.88 bookings a game which is pretty high. His biggest haul is eight yellows in the Lille v Bayern Munich Champions League game last month. Amazingly, given what happened at the Reebok Stadium last season, Atkinson travelled to the European Championships in the summer to serve as an in goal judge for Howard Webb.

Last season Atkinson showed 146 yellows (3.65 a game) and 11 reds in 40 games. His red cards included the ludicrous dismissal of Everton's Jack Rodwell in the Merseyside derby, and Clint Hill's red card in our first meeting against Bolton at Loftus Road. His total was slightly inflated by a ten yellow and two red haul at Bosnia v Belarus in the European Championships qualifiers.

The season before Atkinson finished up with a total of 143 yellows and 13 reds in 41 matches; including five yellows and a red at Chelsea v Man Utd after which Alex Ferguson described him as “neither fair nor firm" and found himself charged with misconduct. He averaged 3.48 yellows a game and QPR v Palace was one of only two Championship matches he refereed all season. His biggest haul in a single game was six yellows and a red which he managed on two occasions – Villa v Spurs before Christmas, Inter v Schalke in the spring. In 2009/10 he showed a whopping 187 yellows and six reds in 48 matches (3.895 bookings a game) two eight booking games, ten games of six cards or more, and a Merseyside derby with six yellows and two reds.

Other Listings

FA Cup >>> Considering he had both his red cards in the West Ham v Everton match overturned just before Christmas I was amazed to see Anthony Taylor put in charge of the League Cup semi final between Chelsea and Swansea last week. This Tuesday he’s at Stoke v Crystal Palace.

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