Duncan comeback continues at Boro - Referee
Friday, 3rd Jul 2020 11:28 by Clive Whittingham
Scott Duncan, who'd been injured for almost the whole of the 2019/20 season prior to lockdown, continues his eventuful comeback at Championship level with Boro v QPR on Sunday.
Referee >>> Scott Duncan (Northumberland)
Assistants >>> Mark Dwyer (West Yorkshire) and James Mainwaring (Lancashire)
Fourth Official >>> Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire)
This was, to be fair, one of the defeats that could at least be filed under ‘fair effort’, which should be the absolute bare minimum for any professional sports side but is a pleasant surprise at Loftus Road these days after the shameful showings against Preston, Rotherham, Bolton, Norwich and others since the turn of the year. Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon was the visitors’ best player, saving comfortably from Ebere Eze after half an hour, twice in quick succession in more impressive style to deny Tomer Hemed either side of the hour, and then with ten minutes to go when Eze connected well with a clever corner routine and thought he’d scored. Mass Luongo had one 25 yarder blatantly blocked with his hands by former QPR defender Jack Robinson – referee Scott Duncan, whose grasp of the laws around kicks from the penalty mark is weak, said no. Moments after that Luongo tried again but wasn’t bar wide with a low shot. It was, to a certain extent, just one of those days.
Nahki Wells had come on for the final 15 minutes with Matt Smith to chase an equaliser in place of Tomer Hemed, going through the motions again, and young Lewis Walker making a full senior debut against the club his dad played for with such distinction and looking green in the extreme. That ‘chase’ consisted of two shots ballooned over the bar and off towards Television Centre in quick succession – one that should never have been attempted in the first place on his left foot immediately after coming on, the next not even two minutes later after Smith had knocked the ball down well. No composure, no confidence, leaning back, lamentable technique. Appalling really. Unprofessional. Given that, and his recent form, and his miss from the spot in injury time against Birmingham, and the fact that he’s not going to be here next season, why in the name of all that’s fucking good and pure in the world he was allowed within three quarters of a mile of the ball when Duncan did, surprisingly, award a penalty for handball against Robinson two minutes from time I do not know. Ryan Manning not only has three successful penalties to his name this season while on loan at Rotherham, but was a clear man of the match here from left back, is confident, is playing well, is our player and will be here next season.
QPR: Lumley 7; Furlong 5, Leistner 6, Cameron 6, Manning 7; Osayi-Samuel 7, Luongo 6, Scowen 6, Eze 6 (Wells 75, 3); Walker 5 (Shodipo 59, 6), Hemed 5 (Smith 75, 6)
Subs not used: Ingram, Freeman, Wszolek, Carlyle
Bookings: Manning 90+2 (foul)
Forest: Pantilimon 8; Wague 6, Milosevic 6, Robinson 7; Byram 7, Osborn 6; Yates 6, Cash 7 (Yacob 82, -), Lolley 7; Carvalho 7 (Guédioura 82, -); Ansarifard 7 (Grabban 64, 6)
Subs not used: Watson, Murphy, Steele, Appiah
Goals: Ansarifard 55 (assisted Carvalho)
Bookings: Yates 38 (repetitive fouling), Robinson 90 (foul)
Referee – Scott Duncan (Durham) 5 I thought at first glance Robinson had handled the ball for the penalty, though it was debatable. Earlier in the half he’d missed an absolute stone waller when Robinson made a flying save to his left. With the Wigan away incident still fresh in mind, and his recent botched job at Villa v Bristol City, it seems he really does struggle with exactly what is and isn’t handball in the penalty box. Having made the debatable award, he then allowed Robinson to scream in his face for 45 seconds without a yellow card, which meant that when he subsequently tripped Shodipo right on the edge of the box he wasn’t sent off when he should have been. Overall, just not a very good referee.
Lynch’s other main contribution to the half was to wait for Pukki to finally be in a non-threatening position – back to goal, few options for a pass, no chance of a shot, quite a few defenders around him – and needlessly, deliberately, smash straight through the back of him so they could have another effort on goal from a free kick 20 yards out and he could have another yellow card. Stiepermann missed the free kick but it’s not the point. Five bookings, each more brain-dead than the last, in ten appearances for Lynch now moving him out to a chunky 11 for the season. Four away from a three-game ban with six games remaining. If I didn’t know better I’d wonder whether the early May flight to Dubai was already in the system at Flight Centre.
Later we’d see an even stupider tackle still from Buendia on QPR sub Josh Scowen which referee Scott Duncan had little choice but to issue a red card for. Mad, given the situation in the game, and Norwich’s season, even allowing for him being on the end of some agricultural chops just before that. But even with ten men, Norwich were able to add a fourth when one long punt down the field was somehow enough to dissect the entire QPR team, with Lynch slow on the turn and running in treacle to try and catch up with Pukki who helped himself to a fourth. Honestly, I swear to God, if this club dares renew Lynch’s contract this summer I am going the full Jan Palach in the centre circle at the first home game next season.
Norwich: Krul 6; Aarons 7, Zimmermann 7, Godfrey 7, Lewis 7; Trybull 7 (Rhodes 90, -), McLean 7; Buendia 8, Stiepermann 8 (Cantwell 80,-), Hernandez 8; Pukki 8 (Leitner 88,-)
Subs not used: McGovern, Vrancic, Leitner, Rhodes, Klose, Hanley, Cantwell
Goals: Buendia 6, Stiepermann 10, Pukki 38, 85
Red Cards: Buendia 71 (serious foul play)
QPR: Lumley 3; Rangel 3, Furlong 3, Lynch 2, Bidwell 2 (Leistner 34,, 3); Cameron 2 (Scowen 58, 5), Cousins 2; Wszolek 3 (Osayi-Samuel 74, 5), Eze 3, Freeman 3; Wells 3
Subs not used: Ingram, Manning, Hemed, Smith
Bookings: Lynch 43 (being a dick)
Referee – Scott Duncan 6 Not a referee we’ve done particularly well out of this season but bar the odd throw in, goal kick or corner given the wrong way when unsighted you couldn’t really fault him to much here in a fixture where one of the teams refused to compete. Red card looked right, stupid challenge to make. As usual, needlessly pedantic over the placing of corners late in games that are already over.
With Aramide Oteh loaned out, even the vague suggestion of another option than just lumping it up to Matt Smith for the closing stages of a game we’ve fucked up has been removed. Not that McClaren ever used that other option anyway, but it was nice to have it there and dream for a while. Smith was summoned after 63 minutes, replacing Eze who had a worse pass completion record than most of the crowd. The big striker charged into the penalty area to meet a Furlong long throw, and was immediately penalised for pushing by referee Scott Duncan – taking brief timeout from making sure all the corners were taken from exactly the right blade of grass.
There’d been little reason for Wigan to panic before that, but panic they did anyway and when Smith headed Freeman’s free kick down intelligently Leistner came within an inch of an equaliser with a powerful shot that struck the crossbar and bounced back into play. Soon Smith was, fairly hilariously, running towards Jones with the ball at his feet, touching it paste Kipre to go clear on goal only to be deliberately tripped on the edge of the box. Looked a red card to me, Duncan settled for a yellow, Wells took a turn at belting a beautifully positioned free kick into the middle of the wall.
A point could have been salvaged two minutes from time when a cross from Wells had Jones flapping around all over the place but Smith headed over when it seemed easier to score. And should have been salvaged in four minutes of stoppage time when a Furlong long throw wrought havoc in the area and Jacobs clearly and obviously blocked Manning’s shot with two outstretched arms in a desperate bid to preserve the point. A save Peter Schmeichel would have been proud of. Duncan, looking right at it from five yards away, gave nothing. Maybe just as well, we’d probably still be there now waiting for that silly old fart to pissball about making sure the ball was on the penalty spot properly.
Wigan: Jones 6; James 8, Kipre 6, Fox 6 (Dunkley 79. 6), Byrne 6; Pilkington 8 (Gibson 77, 3), Evans 6, Jacobs 6, Naismith 6; Windass 7, Clarke 6 (Garner 76, 6)
Subs not used: Walton, Baningime, McManaman, Roberts
Goals: Windass 8 (assisted Clarke), Clarke 55 (assisted Windass)
Bookings: Evans 21 (foul), Kipre 83 (foul), Jacobs 90+1 (foul)
QPR: Lumley 5; Furlong 6, Leistner 4, Lynch 5, Bidwell 6; Scowen 4, Luongo 6 (Manning 88, -); Wszolek 5 (Osayi-Samuel 46, 6), Eze 4 (Smith 63, 6), Freeman 6; Wells 5
Subs not used: Ingram, Hall, Cousins, Kakay
Goals: Osayi-Samuel 75 (assisted Luongo)
Bookings: Luongo 13 (foul)
Referee – Scott Duncan (Durham) 5 Bog standard Championship referee – red hot on the little, insignificant stuff, completely clueless on the big decisions that actually matter. Blatant handball for a penalty not awarded at the end, but is that ball in the quadrant for the corner? Is it though? Is it? Is it? Is it in the right place? That ball? For the corner? Is it in the right place? Is it in the right place? Is it though? Have you put it in the right place? Have you? Have you though? Is it right? Is it? Is it? Is it? Fucking helmet.
Stevens hung a cross up for substitute David McGoldrick which was dealt with calamitously by Lynch and Bidwell. The former making no real attempt to get his head on the ball and the latter doing some sort of shove-cum-duck routine which he does so often to win a throw-in. I have seen since a number of fans say it wasn't a penalty, in the ground I thought it was. If you're stupid enough to shove a forward in the area then you have to expect it so I can't really complain too much. McGoldrick dusted himself down to put away the penalty despite only being on the pitch for a number of minutes.
QPR: Ingram 5; Kakay 6, Leistner 8, Lynch 4, Bidwell 5; Scowen 6, Luongo 5, Freeman 6; Smyth 5 (Osayi Samuel 46, 6), Eze 7, Sylla 5 (Smith 69 , 5)
Subs not used: Lumley, Cousins, Manning, Baptiste.
Goals: Eze 29 (unassisted)
Yellow Cards: Lynch (foul)
Sheffield United: Henderson, Stevens, Egan, Stearman, O'Connell, Freeman, Duffy (Woodburn 70), Basham, Fleck, Clarke, Sharp (McGoldrick 64 (Leonard 83))
Subs not used: Lumstrum, Lafferty, Moore, Norrington-Davies.
Goals: Sharp 43, McGoldrick 68 (penalty)
Yellow Cards: Woodburn (kicked ball away)
Scott Duncan (Newcastle) 5: Not too bad, seemed to to place a lot of trust in his officials whom I'm sure he would think had a better view on things but there was definitely some questionable decisions regarding corners and throw-ins from them. With the penalty, I have watched it a few times and can see why it was given, but when Henderson began to time waste through the second-half it didn’t feel as though he was strong enough and then allowed them to refereeing the last few minutes how they pleased completely seeing the game out.
The game changed very little to be honest with the sending off of Mark Little on 54 minutes. At first glance Little’s lunge on Luongo (at least from the Ellerslie Road…) didn’t appear to be too bad, however Scott Duncan wasted no time in pulling out a straight red for the former Bristol City right back. Subsequent replays showed that Little had both his feet off the floor, and chopped Luongo down late – the only thing that saved Luongo was that the lunge went through his legs, and he took Luongo down via his hip.
QPR: Smithies 7; Onuoha 7, Lynch 7, Robinson 6; Wzsolek 6, Bidwell 6 (Smyth 64, 7); Scowen 6, Luongo 6, Freeman 6; Washington 5 (Eze, 82 -), Smith 7
Subs not used: Ingram, Furlong, Baptiste, Chair, Osayi-Samuel
Goals: Lynch 72 (assisted Smith) Smith 90+1 (assisted Smyth)
Bolton: Alnwick, Burke, Wheater, Beevers, Little, Derik (Morais 81), Henry, Vela (Karacan 45) Robinson, Walker (Le Fondre 69), Ameobi
Subs not used: A Taylor, Dervite, Howard, Clough
Bookings: Henry 36 (foul)
Sending Off: Little 54 (serious foul play)
Referee: Scott Duncan 6 Got the one big decision correct, but seemed to buy a lot of whatever Bolton were selling in terms of soft free kicks, and poor old Matt Smith still can’t catch a break in the opposition penalty box. Didn’t think he was as bad as some on the message board did though…
The first, on 22 minutes, was a relatively simple header at the back post after he’d peeled away from his marker to nod in an inch perfect cross from Pawel Wszolek – impressing in a right wing-back role – after a neat interchange with Luke Freeman. The second, just before the hour, was from the penalty spot after Wszolek had been clotheslined by Reading’s Portuguese defender Tiago Ilori who was sent off by referee Scott Duncan for the professional foul. Reading were fuming that play had been allowed to continue with a player injured in back play, and Joel Lynch was booked for the foul that caused the problem once play stopped, but there was no head injury and therefore no obligation for QPR to put the ball out or Duncan to halt the game. The protests, booking and injury caused an inordinate delay before the kick was taken but Washington did well to remain calm and composed, even laughing as he replaced the ball on the spot, before finding the top corner with Mannone going the other way and not able to reach the ball with a butterfly net even if he had dived left instead. Less composure on show in the first half when clean through on goal however – he skied it embarrassingly over with time to pick his spot.
That save swiftly followed by the second goal and red card killed off what limited resistance Reading had been offering. French striker Yan Kermorgant was missing with a hip injury and after an 18-goal campaign in 2016/17 – his highest ever total in English football – he was always likely to be sorely missed. A proposed move for Huddersfield’s Nahki Wells has come to nought and Bodvarsson’s three goals in 48 appearances for Wolves last season isn’t going to put the frighteners on anybody. They had some cause to feel aggrieved with referee Scott Duncan who seemed much keener to let QPR, and Jamie Mackie in particular, away with a word on the run for fouls while Barrow and Budvarsson were both booked immediately in similar circumstances. Barrow had half a shout for a foul right on the edge of the QPR area waved away late in the day when it could have been a free kick or penalty. But it was their insistence on persisting with passing the ball around deep in their own half – even though QPR had planned for it and were destroying it – that seemed a bigger problem. They were just far too easy to play against.
QPR: Smithies 7; Perch 7, Onuoha 8, Lynch 7; Wszolek 8, Bidwell 7 (Robinson 87, -); Scowen 8, Luongo 8, Freeman 8; Washington 7 (Sylla 81, -), Mackie 7 (Ngbakoto 83, -)
Subs not used: Furlong, Ingram, Borysiuk, Smith
Goals: Washington 22 (assisted Wszolek), 59 (penalty, won Wszolek)
Bookings: Lynch (foul)
Reading: Mannone 5; Gunter 5, Moore 6, Illori 5, Blackett 5; Kelly 6, Evans 5, Popa 5, Clement 5 (Barrow 52, 6); Swift 6 (Mendes 82, -); Bodvarsson 4 (Richards 59, 5)
Subs not used: Jaakkola, Rinomhota, Richards, Smith
Red Cards: Illori 56 (professional foul)
Bookings: Bodvarsson 28 (foul) Barrow 90+2 (foul)
Referee – Scott Duncan (Northumberland) 6 If I was writing the Reading version of this I’d probably give him a four and point to a couple of inconsistencies. Firstly, Jamie Mackie must have been getting close to half a dozen fouls by himself but didn’t get booked, while Barrow and Bodvarsson were booked pretty much straight away. Secondly, the penalty (which was an obvious decision) came while a Reading player was down injured and play wasn’t stopped, then moments later when a QPR man was down the referee did call it to check if it was a head injury or not. I thought he was fine, apart from the Mackie stuff he didn’t get much wrong, but I know if I’d been at the other end I’d have been unhappy.
That should really have been 2-0. Caught out by the intensity, feel-good-factor, pace, power and fast start we’d all expected – plus a team selection we hadn’t – Norwich contrived to self-destruct and play their way out of the game in the opening minute. Robinson’s humungous long throw sparked panic in the penalty area, Nedum Onuoha’s presence unsettled John Ruddy, full back Marcus Olsson clawed the goal-bound ball back off the line with two hands, referee Scott Duncan pointed to the spot and issued a red card – the fastest ever on this ground.
It was a surprise to see Chery missing a penalty in training during the week, given his reputation from 12 yards, and maybe this would have been better left to Seb Polter because after an inordinate delay – awarded on 50 seconds it was a good few minutes before the spot kick was actually taken – caused by Olsson’s reluctance to leave the field the Dutch midfielder drilled the ball low and wide of the post.
Norwich had their first half moments. A back-pass of Karl Ready proportions from Nedum Onuoha forced Alex Smithies to rush from his line and deny Steven Naismith one on one. Jacob Murphy shot over, Graeme Dorrans was denied by a flying block on the edge of the area by Jordan Cousins, Naismith was booked by referee Duncan for illegally pinching the ball from Smithies as the keeper attempted to clear – the Scot missed the target with his shot in any case. Dorrans was also booked in first half stoppage time for a wild hack at Joel Lynch for which he may well have seen red had the referee not already sent a Norwich player off.
Murphy’s glorious shot 18 minutes from time beat Smithies all ends up but came back into play off the bar. Dorrans saw another shot bravely blocked by Lynch on the edge of the area, Robbie Brady smacked a direct free kick high and wide after Sandro had taken one for the team and fouled his man after the ball bounced into a dodgy spot off the referee. The visitors were belying their numerical disadvantage, and the nerves in the QPR ranks only grew when Naismith cutely headed home Murphy’s square ball with ten minutes remaining for play.
QPR: Smithies 7; Onuoha 6, Hall 7, Lynch 8; Perch 7, Robinson 7 (Sandro 46, 6); Luongo 7 (Shodipo 66, 6), Cousins 6, Chery 6; Polter 7 (Sylla 82, -), Washington 8
Subs not used: Ingram, Borysiuk, El Khayati, Ngbakoto
Goals: Washington 21 (assisted Chery/Polter), Polter 27 (assisted Chery)
Bookings: Lynch 80 (foul)
Norwich: Ruddy 7; Martin 6, Bennett 6, Bassong 5, Olsson -, Tettey 6, Dorrans 5, Murphy 6, Brady 5; Naismith 7 (Murphy 88, -), Oliveira 4 (Jerome 75, 7)
Subs not used: Whittaker, Klose, Hoolahan, McGovern
Goals: Naismith 78 (assisted Murphy)
Red Cards: Olsson 1 (deliberate handball on the goal line)
Bookings: Tettey 2 (dissent), Naismith 37 (foul), Dorrans 45+3 (foul)
Referee – Scott Duncan (Northumberland) 8 Olsson’s attempt to claw the ball back off the line channel Steven Taylor’s Oscar-nominated performance a few years back and a penalty was clearly the right decision there. I’ll need talking through this double-jeopardy rule I thought we’d brought in this season though. Big decision correct, could perhaps have sent Naismith off as well for a wild challenge before half time but a yellow was about right.
Ostensibly two Championship teams, Burton Albion and Queens Park Rangers had resorted to simply whacking the ball at each other as high, long and hard as they could long before the end. Rangers' approach to the final third of the game, in particular, would have made John Beck blush. I can't ever recall a match where the ball flew all the way from one goalkeeper right through to the one at the other end untouched quite so often.
In the end this match, which had descended into a sort of giant tennis match by the end with the ball flying backwards and forwards over the halfway line, ran to the best part of 100 minutes. Jake Bidwell, attempting to chase back and interrupt another counter attack, fell awkwardly and dislocated his shoulder, necessitating lengthy treatment and an ambulance. Lynch came on for him, and had a late cross shot poked wide – nice to see him, but the fear we're now to have centre backs in both full back positions with Perch and Bidwell injured lingers.
Referee Scott Duncan, in his wisdom, allowed play to continue around Bidwell as Burton pushed for a winner, despite the player being in obvious pain. When play did eventually restart with a Burton corner, Taylor hit the deck in the six yard box as Smithies claimed the ball in the air. This time, despite there being nothing much wrong with the guy – he was up and about within ten seconds of the physio arriving, and ran off the pitch and back on again in order to return to the action promptly – play was suspended just as QPR launched a counter attack downfield.
That rather summed Duncan and his rag tag team of officials up. An early booking for Jamie Ward, for what barely seemed like a foul, set the ball rolling. Then later Ben Turner, already on a card, was allowed to brutally cut through the back of Luongo without being spoken to. Nigel Clough rightly fumed when Nedum Onuoha dumped Turner on the gravel track in the second half – no free kick awarded. The linesman in front of the away end got a series of very obvious decisions wrong from only a short distance away – possibly distracted by the guy standing in front of us who enthusiastically abused him throughout the first half using an array of swearwords and a running theme of him being "bald" and "northern" despite him having a full head of hair and coming from Somerset.
Burton: McLaughlin 6; Mousinho 6, McFadzean 6, Turner 6; Williamson 5 (Myers-Harness 45, 5), Naylor 5, Palmer 6, Irvine 5, Dyer 6; Akins 5, Ward 6
Subs not used: Beavon, Bywater, Miller, Choudhury, Fox, Barker
Goals: Ward 58
Bookings: Ward 25 (not much), Turner 38 (foul)
QPR: Smithies 6; Onuoha 5, Caulker 6, Hall 5, Bidwell 6 (Lynch 81, -); Henry 5; Luongo 6, Borysiuk 6 (Polter 64, 6), Chery 5, Wszolek 6; Washington 6
Subs not used: Ingram, El Khayati, Shodipo, Sandro, Kakay
Goals: Polter 70 (assisted Luongo)
Bookings: Washington 27 (foul), Bidwell 51 (foul in back play)
Referee – Scott Duncan (Northumberland) 4 Booked for things that weren't a booking, didn't book for things that were; ignored obvious fouls in certain instances, while penalising in others for hardly anything at all which eventually led players on both teams embarrassingly throwing themselves around trying to trick him; didn't stop play for Bidwell's serious injury, then did for Naylor's knock. Depressingly bad, ruined an already awful game further.
As on Tuesday night, and last Saturday, when Ramsey’s substitutions were pilloried it was hard to think of a change he could have made without the crowd reacting negatively. Removing Henry, obviously, but possibly also withdrawing Daniel Tozser. The Hungarian, however, remained on despite getting his own share of barracking for a sixty fifth minute free kick that flew over the bar from ambitious range after referee Scott Duncan had booked Kyle McFadzean for pulling back Emmanuel Thomas. Ramsey’s reward for that faith was a pass of exceptional vision and quality 13 minutes from time which freed Matt Phillips into enough space for him to cut inside and bury a second goal into the far corner. Tozser’s corners, too, were a breath of fresh air and made Rangers look threatening every time they were awarded one.
And more importantly - it worked. Until the failed cross on the hour, Henry had actually had his best game of the season, and was one of the better QPR players on the field - admittedly against severely limited opposition struggling to adapt to a higher level. By the time he was taken off, to ironic cheers, Rangers were 2-0 up and had the game won. His own performance waned after the failed cross, and a yellow card for a combination of a foul and kicking the ball away on the hour was mindless, but he’d played well to begin with in spite of the restless natives.
QPR: Green 6; Onuoha 6, Hall 7, Hill 6, Konchesky 6; Henry 6 (Faurlin 84, 6), Tozser 7; Phillips 6, Luongo 6 (Fer 57, 6), Chery 6 (Hoilett 80, 6); Emmanuel Thomas 7
Subs not used: Doughty, Perch, Smithies, Polter
Goals: Emmanuel Thomas 70 (assisted Onuoha), Phillips 77 (assisted Tozser), Hoilett 88 (assisted Tozser/Hall)
Bookings: Henry 58 (foul/kicking ball away)
MK Dons: Martin 6; Spence 6, McFadzean 5, Kay 6, Lewington 5; Poyet 6 (Maynard 79, 5), Forster Caskey 6, Hall 5 (Baker 67, 5), Reeves 5 (Carruthers 57, 5), Murphy 6; Chruch 5
Subs not used: Hodson, Potter, Powell, Burns
Bookings: McFadzean 65 (foul)
Referee – Scott Duncan (Northumberland) 8 Little to referee but kept control well and the two cards were fully justified.
Against the Foxes he embarked on a one man mission to get Easter Monday off. Eight minutes before half time he went over the ball on Rihad Mahrez and was lucky that referee Scott Duncan only saw that as a yellow card – Karl Henry did him a big favour, holding a crowd of Leicester players at bay and calming the situation so it didn’t appear as bad as it was. Rather than make the most of his let off, the Cameroon full back launched into another ridiculous tackle midway through the second half on Andy King and trooped straight off down the tunnel with a gormless smile on his face.
He was unfortunate in three minutes of first half stoppage time to see a shot deflect just wide of Kasper Schmeichel’s post with the keeper beaten – referee Duncan mistakenly awarded a goal kick instead of a corner – and prior to that he’d been involved in a nice one two with Super Size Niko Kranjcar whose shot was parried over the bar. But mostly he was awful, dragging shots wide and interrupting moves with poor touches before his inevitable withdrawal 20 minutes from time so Bobby Zamora could have a run out.
This latest game at Leicester probably fits into the unfortunate category. Despite another weird and wonderful team selection QPR gave a good account of themselves, particularly in the first half. Niko Kranjcar’s weight gain since the start of the season has been alarming and he’s now built like a cast member from a Croatian re-make of Big Momma’s House. He too was fortunate not to be sent off – booked on the stroke of half time for a foul on Danny Drinkwater and then guilty of a late lunge every bit as daft as Assou-Ekotto’s in the second but referee Duncan didn’t even award a free kick. But he made QPR tick when they had the ball before half time and caused Leicester’s muscular but skilfully limited defence all manner of difficulties. He had an early shot deflected over, another saved by Schmeichel, and teed Maiga up for varying forms of disaster on several occasions.
The closest they came to an equaliser was Suk-Young lobbing a through ball towards an empty goal as Kasper Schmiechel charged towards him. The ball bounced wide but referee Duncan, perhaps a little harshly given that the keep made an honest play for a loose ball, brought play back, booked Schmeichel and awarded a free kick that Kranjcar struck into the wall.
Leicester: Schmeichel 7; De Laet 6, Morgan 6, Wasilewski 7, Schlupp 6 (Moore 77, 6); Hammond 6 (James 67, 6), King 6, Drinkwater 7, Mahrez 7; Nugent 7, Knockaert 6 (Dyer 68, 6)
Subs not used: Taylor-Fletcher, Logan, Phillips, Wood
Goals: Nugent 67 (assisted Drinkwater)
Bookings: Schmeichel 72 (foul)
QPR: Green 6; Simpson 6, Onuoha 7, Hughes 6, Assou-Ekotto 4; Henry 6, O’Neil 5; Benayoun 6 (Wright-Phillips 46, 5), Kranjcar 7 (Morrison 82, -), Suk-Young 6; Maiga 4 (Zamora 72, 6)
Subs not used: Dunne, Keane, Murphy, Donaldson
Red Cards: Assou-Ekotto 77 (two yellows)
Bookings: Assou-Ekotto 38 (foul), Kranjcar 44 (foul), O’Neil 56 (foul), Assou-Ekotto 77 (foul)
Referee – Scott Duncan (Northumberland) 7 I liked him. QPR could certainly have no complaints about the Assou-Ekotto sending off, and in fact he was very generous with Niko Kranjcar who could also have been red carded so a point off for that. He was calm, not swayed by player reaction, gave himself time to think, got the big decisions right.
Duncan had actually been injured for the majority of the 2019/20 season, returning only the week before lockdown for Cheltenham 0-0 Port Vale in League Two. His first and only post lockdown action came at Derby 2-1 Reading last week when Tom Lawrence and Matt Miazga were both sent off in injury time for a bitch slapping session.
It wasn’t just QPR on the end of Duncan’s weird and wonderful interpretation of the rules surrounding kicks from the penalty mark in the 2018/19 season. Bristol City lost a crucial play-off chasing game at Aston Villa after having a ridiculously harsh spot kick awarded against them when Conor Hourihane appeared to just chuck himself to the ground and catch the ball.
He finished that season with 109 yellows and nine reds in 34 games.
Pictures – Action Images
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