Ward takes cup game - Referee
Tuesday, 14th Aug 2018 07:38 by Clive Whittingham
Gavin Ward, the baby faced referee whose QPR appointments have often ended in high farce, is back with the R's for the first time in five years for Peterborough on Tuesday night.
Referee>> Gavin Ward (Surrey), totally lost control of his two previous QPR appointments at Reading and Portsmouth back in 2010.
Assistants >>> Matt Foley (Hertfordshire) and Nigel Lugg (Surrey)
Fourth Official Neil Davies (Kent)
The Glovers had already long since lost patience with referee Gavin Ward who, in a total departure from his previous form, spent the afternoon giving every 50/50 decision in favour of Queens Park Rangers even before the penalty kick that decided the game 15 minutes from time. At one point towards the end of the game he booked Ed Upson for taking his own free kick too quickly – always a sign of a referee without a feel for the game and with a troubled childhood on his CV – and not for the first time this season Town manager Gary Johnson was left to curse an official for deciding the game.
Austin, typically bullish and forthright when pursuing a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area, appeared to tug back Dan Seaborne as he rounded him and seized possession before hitting the deck when the Yeovil man responded in kind. From my view some 15 yards away, looking right at the incident, I felt Ward called it right and the penalty was a correct decision but it’s almost certain that had Seaborne been as willing to hit the deck as Austin was under the initial contact Ward probably would have awarded a free kick the other way.
Credit to Austin though for a work rate Alan Partridge might have compared to that of a ‘Japanese prisoner of war’ which was duly rewarded not only with the award of the penalty, but a goal as well when he calmly sent Hennessey the wrong way and scored from the spot. It’s been a difficult start to life at QPR for the former Swindon man, with the missed sitters stacking up and service of Parisian restaurant standard coming his way, but he has three goals to his name already from ten appearances this season and thoroughly deserved this latest strike. It was QPR’s only shot on target in the entire match.
Yeovil: Hennessey 6; Ayling 6, Fontaine 6 (Dawson 37, 6), Seaborne 5, McAllister 6; Edwards 6, Upson 7, Ralls 7, Davis 7; Grant 7 (Hayter 79, 6), Williams 6 (Ngoo 79, 7)
Subs not used: Dunn, Ofori-Twumasi, Foley, Hoskins
Bookings: Ralls 29 (foul), Upson 86 (taking a free kick while Gavin Ward was still dusting the sand out of his lady parts)
QPR: Green 8, Simpson 6, Dunne 7, Hill 7, Assou-Ekotto 6; Carroll 5, Jenas 5; Phillips 6, O’Neil 6, Traore 6; Austin 8
Subs not used: Murphy, Ehmer, Henry, Faurlin
Goals: Austin 75 (penalty, won Austin)
Bookings: Austin 32 (foul)
Referee – Gavin Ward (Surrey) 7 The big decision of the game – the penalty – was correct, although I’ve no doubt that had Seaborne gone to ground himself under the initial contact from Austin it would have been given the other way. Yeovil seemed increasingly angry at his handling of the game, and I thought he was generous with QPR a few times, but fine overall. A sign that he might be maturing into a better official than the one who made a pig’s ear of our trips to Reading and Portsmouth back in 2010, was the fact he didn’t send off Charlie Austin for his first half challenge when he once might have done. But then he booked Ed Upson for taking his own free kick too quickly and all referees who do that should be punished with laps of the pitch after the match.
The end to end nature of the game continued from this incident with Adel Taarabt immediately trying his luck from the edge of the area and claiming handball when Portsmouth skipper Mokoena appeared to block his shot with an arm. This was the start of a farcical night of penalty incidents both given and not, and this was the first of three appeals by QPR that looked more like a penalty than the one they were eventually given.
Having waved those appeals away referee Gavin Ward started to have more of an influence on the game. He bought a very obvious dive from Utaka to award Portsmouth a free kick on the edge of the box five minutes before half time which Liam Lawrence then curled several yards over the bar. Then after waving play on through a tangle of Derry and Brown in midfield, where Derry actually seemed to be more sinned against than sinner himself, he returned to show a yellow card to the QPR man once the attack had come to a halt but only did so after Michael Brown came across, screaming in his face about the incident – prior to that he’d shown no inclination to even go and talk to Derry, never mind show him a yellow card. For the second time in as many games I think our midfielder was hard done to. He now has four yellow cards for the season, one away from a one game ban with the home match against Cardiff looming.
His opposite number Paddy Kenny was more than equal to a weak header from Lawrence at the back post midway through the second half as Utaka’s influence on the game started to wane. Lawrence also saw yellow around this time, which would become crucial later, when Kyle Walker kicked through onto a boot that he left in when attempting to block a clearance down the line. Walker made a real meal of it, riving on the turf in mock agony, and a yellow card was probably about right.
Then, the first penalty incident. It actually came during QPR’s best period of attacking pressure in the half and just seconds after Adel Taarabt had brilliantly tricked his way into the area and then delivered a disappointing cross into Ashdown at the near post. The ball was launched away down field and after badly misjudging it in the first instance, Matt Connolly then made a real mess of trying to recover the situation and although he got back to Kitson who had run in behind him he could only trip the lanky striker over for an obvious penalty and red card. No complaints to this point, Connolly misses the Nottingham Forest game on Saturday with a one match ban.
Then the farce began. Liam Lawrence took the penalty, and placed a weak side footed effort to Paddy Kenny’s left. The goalkeeper, as he did at Swansea a couple of weeks back, flung himself across and saved the ball well with two hands – pushing it away for a corner and receiving the adulation of his team mates. But it soon became clear that all was not what it should be. The linesman had remained in position on the byline and referee Ward was busy signalling that another penalty would have to be taken.
Now I’ll trot out the usual refereeing disclaimer at this point – they only get one look at it, and it’s all very well freezing the frames on television and proving them wrong but they get no replays to look at and can only give what they see. But in this case the linesman and referee hadn’t given what they’d seen. They’d given something that simply didn’t exist, something that didn’t happen. Paddy Kenny had both feet on the goal line right up until the moment the ball was kicked and he pulled off a fine save fair and square. Pathetic, abject, incomprehensible, corrupt, ridiculous, ludicrous – it was all of these things and more.
The second penalty was much more the sort of thing that you expect from Lawrence – struck hard, with the laces, and past Kenny before he’d had chance to move. Which is probably just as well because if he had had chance to move and dared to save it again we probably would have had to go through the farce of having the bloody thing retaken for a third time and as Mr Ward had allowed the game to start five minutes late those of us on the 10.04pm train with a three minute change at Eastleigh were starting to get a bit twitchy. In fact in the interests of getting the game finished before daybreak the referee may have been as well asking Kenny to stand aside and just allow Lawrence a chance to roll the ball into an empty net, seeing as it now seems the goalkeeper isn’t allowed to get involved in these things. And if you’ve got a moment to spare, watch the replay and count the Portsmouth bodies in the area as Lawrence ’s second attempt hits the net.
Mr Ward isn’t so good at spotting things like that, but he is very good at ordering players away from an incompetent linesman it must be said – straight over there with all the hand actions and whistle blowing to prevent anybody confronting the useless prick.
From that point on the officiating of the game became a complete nonsense. Within minutes Portsmouth were awarded a free kick on the halfway line, a routine decision, which they took quickly and inadvertently kicked straight to Kyle Walker. A whistle was blown and the free kick had to be taken again. Again, in the interests of making the 10.04pm from Fratton, I wondered if it would have been better at this stage for Mr Ward to simply sling a blue shirt on and start taking the Portsmouth set pieces himself if he was so concerned about the quality of them.
After the goal QPR made a couple of odd substitutions. Warnock replaced Taarabt with Borrowdale, who went to left back with Clint Hill at centre half. This despite Hill gesturing wildly to the touchline that either he couldn’t carry on, or that they were doing the wrong thing, or both. Rob Hulse also made way for Patrick Agyemang and then, later, Leon Clarke came on for Shaun Derry who had a yellow card to his name and a lunatic running round refereeing the game.
It’s worth at this point, in my opinion anyway, pointing out rule 12 of Association Football relating to handball. Mr Ward clearly doesn’t know it, and that became a bit off an issue in the final 20 minutes of the game. The rule states that a direct free kick (or penalty) shall be awarded if a player, other than the goalkeeper in his own area, deliberately handles the ball. Now did Rob Hulse deliberately handle the ball when he received it with his back to goal and it bounced up and hit his hand that was hanging loosely by his side? No, but a free kick was given anyway. Did Hayden Mullins handle the ball in the penalty area when he thrust his arm up into the air and palmed it away from Shaun Derry’s head? Yes, but a free kick was given the other way for a push. Did Liam Lawrence deliberately handle the ball in his area in stoppage time? Almost certainly not. Even if it did hit him on the arm, which I don’t think it did, it came at him from a matter of yards away at pace. That decision though was a culmination of 20 minutes of nonsense decisions from the officials which had fans from both sides sarcastically appealing for handball free kicks whenever anybody touched the ball. Mr Ward was losing control.
As well as the Mokoena handball appeal in the first half, and the Mullins one in the second, Rangers had a third very decent shout for a penalty when Kaspars Gorkss, up from the back for a free kick, clearly seemed to be elbowed by a Portsmouth player but predictably play on was waved.
Right at the end of normal time Tommy Smith went to cross the ball from the deadball line, it was blocked away by Lawrence and for the seven thousandth time in the second half everybody appealed for handball. It wasn’t, it hit Lawrence in his rib cage, but laughably referee and linesman awarded a spot kick anyway.
Lawrence was livid, confronting both officials with a look of rage on his face. By the time his dissent earned him a second yellow card and subsequent red he had torn the shirt from his back to show the telltale football print on his chest. With the shirt hanging loosely around his neck like some sort of sash and his peroxide blonde hair he looked like some crazed Miss Arizona, protesting at being stripped of her title.
In the end she trooped off to join Matt Connolly in the early bath water. Had the game run for another ten minutes I’m convinced they would have been joined by another player or two such was the lack of grip Mr Ward had on the game by this stage.
With Buzsaky spending time with his surgeon again (he sees him more than he does Mrs Buzsaky) Taarabt and Hulse already removed and Heidar Helguson still recovering from a steroid injection into the side of his head penalty takers were thin on the ground. Step forward Tommy Smith who, after another lengthy delay while Mr Ward ensured that everybody was placed just so and the nasty goalkeeper wasn’t going to make any attempts to try and save it, calmly banged the ball into the bottom corner for a very satisfying equaliser.
Now it is not LoftforWords’ style to just slag off referees. On only three occasions in 17 matches this season has a match report ended in a mark of less than five out of ten for an official, because it’s too easy to blame the referee all the time and there’s nothing more annoying and boring than turning on one radio phone in after another to some Chelsea fan or other who didn’t go to the game but listened to the second half while he was painting his kitchen ceiling starting his call with: “I know we don’t like to criticise referees, but that bloke today…”
But what exactly should I do in this situation? Or indeed the situation I found myself in ten days ago after spending the thick end of £100 going to watch QPR v Burnley only for the referee to blow his whistle and interrupt the play every minute and 45 seconds? Should I just pat them on the head and trot out Graham Poll’s favourite mantra about it not being the referees who make a bad pass, or commit a foul, or make the wrong substitution, or dive? Should I focus instead on Matthew Connolly, who misjudged the original ball and then fouled Dave Kitson in the area allowing the penalty farce to occur in the first place? Or Steve Cotterill who, despite having an in form team leading 1-0 against ten men, inexplicably chose to try and sit back and soak up pressure for the final 20 minutes culminating in the nonsense decision that robbed him of two points?
Those points are certainly worthy of mention and analysis, but they do not in any way excuse the three match officials for their handling of this fixture. Allow me to quote our referee Gavin Ward, from his Ref World profile, on what makes a good referee: “Remaining calm in all situations with positive body language, man management and self confidence helps to control matches, as players pick up on this. Having the ability to listen to advice offered from more senior colleagues, this will help develop you as referee. Most importantly is to enjoy what you do.”
I find this quote amusing and disturbing in equal measure. Stop me if I go wrong at any point but is the most important part of refereeing not getting as many decisions right as possible? You can have all the positive body language and calmness and self confidence in the world, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a good referee. The most important part of being a referee is getting the big decisions right and Gavin Ward has persistently shown a chronic inability to do this. Admittedly on Tuesday he was guided by a couple of linesman who may as well have shoved their flags up their arses for all the use they were getting out of the bloody things but it is the referee’s responsibility to get the big calls right and on Tuesday at Portsmouth, and last season at Reading, whenever a big decision has had to be made Mr Ward has consistently got it wrong. And for all his talk of remaining calm and adopting a positive body language he always retreats to his book and starts handing out cards once he’s lost control.
Portsmouth : Ashdown 7, Halford 6 (Ward 26, 6), Mokoena 6, Sonko 7, Dickinson 6, Lawrence 7, Mullins 6, Brown 6, Utaka 8 (Ciftci 86, -), Kitson 6, Kanu 5 (Hreidarsson 90, -)
Subs Not Used: Flahavan, Hughes, Rocha
Sent Off: Lawrence (two bookings)
Booked: Lawrence (foul), Ashdown (time wasting), Lawrence (dissent)Goals: Lawrence 71 (penalty won Kitson)
QPR: Kenny 7, Walker 6, Connolly 6, Gorkss 7, Hill 6, Derry 6 (Clarke 80, -),Faurlin 6, Taarabt 6 (Borrowdale 72, 6), Mackie 7, Smith 7, Hulse 6 (Agyemang 72, 5)
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Rowlands, Ephraim, Andrade
Sent Off: Connolly (professional foul)
Booked: Derry (dissent)
Goals: Smith 90 (penalty won Smith)
Referee: Gavin Ward ( Surrey ) 3 What is there left to say? Last season, when Mr Ward turned our game at Reading into almost as big a farce as this one, Neil Warnock said he didn’t feel the referee was ready for games of that magnitude. And presumably somebody somewhere agreed with him because since then he has only refereed three Championship matches and they have been what I would call low profile fixtures with small away followings, little ill feeling between the clubs and not as much pressure as there would be in a Reading v QPR or Portsmouth v QPR fixture. By that token presumably somebody somewhere then though that having done a few months in front of low crowds and in lower divisions Mr Ward, and his two linesman, were ready to step back up and take charge of a big game between two in form and notoriously physical sides at an atmospheric and hostile stadium. Whoever made that decision should be taken aside today and beaten by somebody with board with a nail in it.
Referee Gavin Ward was at the centre of attention on Tuesday night as QPR, reduced to ten men in the first half, suffered their first defeat under Neil Warnock thanks to a late Reading penalty.
One of my favourite Whittingham-isms is the use of the phrase lobotomised gibbon to describe Sheffield United’s knuckle-dragging simian Chris Morgan (see last weekend's Sheffield United match report). Unfortunately for QPR, higher primates missing their frontal lobes do not just play football they can also referee as well.
The primate in question, Mr Gavin Ward, oversaw his first QPR match last night, and I hope it is his last. He was inconsistent throughout the night, bought dives, missed handballs, threw yellow cards around like chicken feed, and couldn’t tell the difference between a corner and a goal kick. His decision to send Damion Stewart off in the forty fourth minute of the first half ruined what was becoming a tight and interesting encounter between two teams of a similar league standing and skill level.
Then, on thirty one minutes, the silliness began. Mr Ward, who had not thirty seconds earlier given Shane Long a ticking-off for his tackle on Faurlin, booked Damion Stewart for raising a boot in a challenge with Long. It was a 50/50 ball, one player went with the head, one with the foot, and the result should have been a whistle and a quiet word, based on the free-kick which had gone before. Unfortunately, that yellow card was the opening of Pandora’s Box. Like a flasher in a rain mac with no zip, his card came out again and again and again. Faurlin was next in the book for an unfair challenge, which again did not warrant a yellow, and on 44 minutes, Stewart went in the book for the second and final time of the evening.
From where we were sitting, it seemed as if the goalkeeper simply ran into Stewart whilst clearing the ball. The linesman, and surprisingly Neil Warnock in his post-match interview, had different ideas. The linesman flapped, the ref glanced to look, and without any dialogue with his assistant (although perhaps they spoke via radio) the decision was made. Stewart, who had a good first half, except for hooking a simple clearance out for a corner, is either an idiot or on the receiving end of a referee whose decision making was as poor as poor can be – one would have to look at the video replay.
The second half became scrappier as the minutes wore on and the wonderful Gavin Ward reacted by booking yet another QPR player. This time it was Leigertwood for an unfair challenge on Rasiak, although possibly for Leggs’ reaction to the free-kick rather than the challenge itself. Seconds earlier, Ephraim was elbowed in the head and Faurlin had been fouled having won the ball twice in midfield from two separate Reading players - neither incident warranted a free-kick from Mr Ward.
Then came the penalty. Simple. Reading corner, QPR clearance, Reading player back into the box, chopped down by Hill. Hill received a card, and while you’re at it may as well flash one to Connolly for dissent. Penalty awarded. Goal. Sigurdson's spot kick was well placed in the top corner, well out of the reach of Ikeme who did dive the right way.
In a different time, one in which competent men referee football matches, this would have been one point for the R’s with a goal apiece. Neither side would have deserved much more on the first-half display. And who knows, had we kept 11 men, Reading may have fallen to pieces as they threatened to do at points in the second half.
Reading: Federici, Griffin , Mills, Ingimarsson, Bertrand, Kebe,Tabb, Sigurdsson, Howard (Rasiak 61), McAnuff, Long (Church 67)
Subs Not Used: Hamer, Gunnarsson, Matejovsky, Robson-Kanu, Khizanishvili
Booked: Rasiak (diving)
Goals: Sigurdsson 85 (penalty)
QPR: Ikeme 7, Connolly 7, Stewart 6, Gorkss 8, Hill 7, Faurlin 7, Leigertwood 6, Priskin 6 (German 87), Taarabt 7 (Ramage 80, -), Ephraim 6 (Cook 90, -), Simpson 7
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Cook, Vine, Buzsaky, Borrowdale
Booked: Faurlin (foul), Leigertwood (repetitive fouling), Hill (foul), Connolly (dissent)
Sent Off: Stewart (two bookings – foul, obstructing goalkeeper)
Referee - Gavin Ward (Staffordshire) 1 And that is for being able to tie his shoelaces. The guy was awful. Truly awful. This may sound like the rant of the defeated, but he bought everything from both sides, except in the second-half when QPR couldn’t win a free-kick for love nor money, missed countless handballs from both sides, gave throw-ins the wrong way, gave corners instead of goal kicks, goal kicks instead of corners, and finally, threw yellow cards around like confetti, unfortunately only to one side. On his basis of awarding yellow cards, plenty of challenges on either side should have been bookings.
Ward started this season with six bookings at Portsmouth’s 1-0 League One win against Luton and followed that up with no cards in Blackburn’s 0-0 draw with Millwall at our level over the weekend. Fairly encouraging numbers last year with 128 yellows in 45 games (2.84 a game) and six reds. He sent two off at Yeovil v Port Vale and another two at Swindon v Accrington. He was rewarded for his performances with a League Two play-off semi-final between Coventry and Notts County, which he made a right mess of with a nonsense late penalty award to the hosts in a 1-1 draw.
In 2016/17 he booked 150 players, sent off another six, in 41 games. That was led by some distance with a late season flurry of ten bookings at Barnet v Wycombe in League Two.
Pictures – Action Images
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