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Armstrong referees Ipswich v QPR
Armstrong referees Ipswich v QPR
Thursday, 27th Mar 2008 22:00

Paul Armstrong has just his 13th match of the season so far as the R's travel to Portman Road on Saturday.

Ipswich Town v Queens Park Rangers
Referee – Paul Armstrong (Berkshire)

Assistants – Bentley (Kent) and Francis (Cambridgeshire)
Fourth Official – Russell (Northamptonshire)

Who was it said footballers are thick? Did they ever for one moment think there was a footballer out there quite as thick has Javier Mascherano? What was the big talking point of last week? Dissent. What did he get sent off for? Dissent.

It was a thoroughly bloody brainless incident. Under normal circumstances I’d be on here talking about how you could have predicted that the clamp down would begin with a visiting player getting sent of at Old Trafford but in all honesty could Steve Bennett really have done anything else? Mascherano could easily have been sent off for the tackle and his reaction to it in the first place – in the end he picked up a yellow for both and off we went again. Then later in the first half he decided to get involved in an argument over a foul by Fernando Torres and off he went. Steve Bennett, in an uncharacteristic example of calmness and common sense, gave Mascherano every opportunity to stay on the pitch and Benitez was able to stand on the touchline and scream at his player for a good 30 seconds before the red card came out.

There’s talk of rule changes for next year after the Ashley Cole inspired outcry last week and to be honest it’s about time. It was a mistake to get rid of the rule that said a ball could be marched forward ten yards as a result of dissent. Opposition to it seemed to come from players who didn’t like a ball being moved towards the goal so that it was too close to get over the ball – simple then, give the attacking player an option to move it forward after booking the player for dissent.

Another rule that has be trialled in some leagues is a ban on anybody touching a ball after a free kick which would help. A ban on players other than the offender and the captain speaking to the referee would also be a bonus – I’m getting mighty sick of the committee meeting that precedes any booking for a Man Utd or Chelsea player. If Joe Cole or Owen Hargreaves commits a foul what exactly does it have to do with Didier Drogba, John Terry, Gary Neville, Wayne Rooney, Christiano Ronaldo and all these other hangers on who surround the referee to make their oh so important point?

Whatever they decide lets hope it’s carried through and the media criticism of players abusing match officials continues.

Right, after all that support for referees I’m feeling a little bit ill so lets get straight onto the official for this weekend’s trip to Ipswich Town. Paul Armstrong’s stats are interesting because he’s only down as having done 12 matches this season – three in the Championship. You’ll have seen him more recently get Gary Johnson sent to the stands in the Cardiff v Bristol City match after he’d thrown his toys out of the pram over how long it was taking the fourth official to return the ball to the field of play. He had a point.

In his 12 games he’s shown just 21 yellows (1.75 a match) and one red. Last season he got a full campaign under his belt with 30 matches refereed, 78 players booked (2.8 a match) and five sent off.

His last QPR fixture was a 2-1 defeat against West Brom at Loftus Road at the back end of last season. He was awarded six out of ten for his performance, good enough for joint tenth in the referee league. QPR were awarded a penalty that day, one that they subsequently missed.

Referee: Mr P Armstrong 6 - Got the penalty decision right but should have at least booked the offender if not sent them off. From where I was sitting it was hard to tell at normal speed just who it was that had got the crucial touch on Furlong so maybe that was his problem as well. Hate the booking for over celebrating nonsense but that's the idiots that make the rules up, not his fault. A late booking for Camp for punching the ball away towards the corner flag where a corner was about to be taken was a crazy decision. LFW West Brom Match Report

Armstrong was at Loftus Road in 2005/06 as well for a 0-0 draw at home to Wolves, a mark of seven was good enough for a a high sixth on the league.

Ref: P. Armstrong 7 - Armstrong had a reasonable game and let it flow by keeping his cards in his pockets. He did miss the shout for the penalty but if he didn't see it he didn't see it. LFW Wolves Match Report

Other than that he’s been in charge of a 2-2 draw at home to Colchester, that magnificent and very memorable late win at Cardiff City in our play off year, another 2-2 draw with Colchester this time at Layer Road when the U’s were awarded a very oft penalty indeed, and our first game back in the Championship – a 1-1 draw with Rotherham in W12. His last Ipswich fixture was a 3-1 defeat for the Tractor Boys at Millwall in December 2004.

Elsewhere this weekend Mike Riley is with us for Charlton v Wolves – the live Saturday evening Sky match. He’s had another poor season for me culminating in the big Ashley Cole let off last week and he’s never been a referee I’ve had a lot of time for. He’s even lower on Tuesday night with the big Carlisle v Forest promotion battle in League One. Trevor Kettle has Oldham v Huddersfield – something of a local derby – so expect a lot of cards there. Andy Hall has Port Vale v Leyton Orient.

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