Ward takes Wycombe trip - Referee
Friday, 18th Dec 2020 10:04 by Clive Whittingham
Old friend of the site Gavin Ward is the referee in the middle of QPR's crunch Saturday trip to fellow strugglers Wycombe.
Referee>> Gavin Ward (Surrey), refereed QPR's only away win so far this season, at Derby.
Assistants >>> Michael George (Norfolk) and Bhupinder Gill (London)
Fourth Official >>> Daniel Middleton (Derbyshire)
We gently, lovingly, mock Warbs Warburton for various things, not least his tendency to focus on a missed half chance to score in a game where we’ve conceded three shambolic goals ourselves and the defence has done everything but set the team bus alight. But this was exactly what he bangs on about - the quintessential Mark Warburton’s QPR half of football. We’d been the better team, with more of the ball, the majority of the chances, all of the ideas, and a superior passing game… and hadn’t scored. What usually happens here, we’re all well aware of, and when Rooney drew a boot back from 25 yards and struck the outside of the post at the start of the second you feared the Sky commentary team may wank itself into a state of dangerous dehydration. Referee Gavin Ward awarded a corner, for reasons known only to himself.
Even when they have played well under Cocu, it’s been a slow, ponderous, granular watch, and now they’re not it just looks like they’re deliberately waiting and allowing the opposition to get back in their shape before launching an attack because they enjoy the challenge. Repeated theatrical falls to ground by Jozwiak - including an obvious dive in the penalty area - and Knight counted as an offensive tactic. Bonne would match him dive for dive later in the game to be fair, referee Gavin Ward did well to be conned by neither and probably should have carded both. The night drifted by with the hosts trying to get at Hämäläinen first with Jozwiak’s pace, then with Waghorn’s physicality, both to no avail. Hämäläinen, from a typically nervous and timid start, grew quickly in confidence and had a great second half. Waghorn, Rooney, Jozwiak and Kazim-Richards all had a go down the middle at various points – none troubled Yoann Barbet, or particularly Rob Dickie who was superb. Lawrence’s run to create the Kazim-Richards chance was the first positive thing he’d contributed to the game, and proved to be the last. This myth of a player, bought at considerable expense, kept on through his drunken rampage and court case a year ago, happy to blame a bereavement for a potentially lethal drunk driving episode, still stealing a living with one good performance and an occasional eye-catching goal in amongst weeks and weeks and weeks of phoned in, anonymous, half-arsed, half-hearted rubbish. Get him on one of his good days and you've had it, but if Adomah hadn’t humiliated him so comprehensively in the first half here I’m not sure I’d have clocked he was even playing at all. Rooney, bless him, chugging painfully from one deep, neutral, unthreatening position to the next. When he actually got as far as the penalty area, he drew a save and hit the post, two of Derby’s three best efforts, but he spent much of his time in the centre circle, and at one stage I thought we’d accidentally stumbled into a UKTV Gold repeat of that Vicar of Dibley episode where Dawn French eats four Christmas dinners.
Derby: Marshall 7; Byrne 5, Davies 5, Clarke 6, Forsyth 5; Knight 5 (Holmes 72, 5), Shinnie 5; Lawrence 4, Rooney 5 (Sibley 81, -), Jozwiak 6; Waghorn 5 (Kazim-Richards 72, 5)
Subs not used: Wisdom, te Wierik, Bird, Roos
Bookings: Kazim-Richards 90+4 (dissent)
QPR: Dieng 7; Kane 7, Dickie 8, Barbet 7, Hämäläinen 7; Cameron 6, Carroll 7; Adomah 7 (Ball 59, 7), Chair 7, Osayi-Samuel 7 (Willock 65, 7); Dykes 6 (Bonne 59, 7)
Subs not used: Masterson, Kakay, Bettache, Kelly
Goals: Bonne 87 (assisted Dickie)
Referee - Gavin Ward (Surrey) 7 Went through a little contrary period in the second half, awarding free kicks for some ridiculously soft stuff while waving proper fouls away, not booking Byrne when Osayi-Samuel had skinned him and been pulled back, nor Kane when Jozwiak did likewise. But overall he gave the game every chance, stayed out of the way, and got the two big decisions - penalty appeals by Jozwiak and Bonne off obvious dives - correct.
This frantic pattern continued. Lovely feet from Osayi-Samuel – stand up Bright, everybody look at Bright – got Eze into good space but he was too busy trying to circle back around onto his right foot rather than take on the shot with his left. Straight down to the other end, only Kane’s desperate and brilliant last second intervention stopped Cavaleiro finishing off fine work by Knockaert. Less impressive was the French winger’s horrible hack at Osayi-Samuel with two feet at the midway point of the half. Tactical fouls are part of the game – Cairney, Christie and Hugill had all been booked for exactly that already by referee Gavin Ward – but this was more than just a cynical trip to stop a player running away into a dangerous area, this was a needlessly aggressive, two footed lunge that later saw Bright limp from the field to a position of doubt for Middlesbrough on Sunday. It was a very thick yellow card indeed, had he actually been sent off there couldn’t have been many complaints.
QPR: Kelly 3; Kakay 7, Cameron 6, Barbet 5; Kane 6 (Shodipo 80, -), Amos 5, Ball 5 (Chair 89, -), Eze 6, Manning 6; Osayi-Samuel 7 (Oteh 80, -), Hugill 7
Subs not used: Lumley, Rangel, Masterson, Bettache, Gubbins, Clarke
Goals: Hugill 1 (assisted Manning)
Bookings: Manning 23 (foul), Hugill 45+2 (foul)
Fulham: Rodak 6; Christie 7, Hector 7, Ream 6, Odoi 6; Cairney 7 (McDonald 90+3, -), Reed 6, Arter 6 (Onomah 70, 6); Cavaleiro 7 (Sessegnon 90+3, -), Reid 6 (Marchand 79, -), Knockaert 6 (Bryan 70, 6)
Subs not used: Bettinelli, Johansen, De La Torre, Jasper
Goals: Arter 21 (unassisted, Christie 75 (unassisted)
Bookings: Christie 32 (foul), Cairney 53 (foul), Knockaert 64 (foul)
Referee – Gavin Ward (Hampshire) 7 Not an easy game to referee, very competitive with plenty of challenges flying in, played at a decent pace and tempo – all in stark contrast to the dross we’ve mostly been served up by summer lockdown football. He was generous on several occasions with Harrison Reed who took no prisoners, and Knockaert’s horrible challenge on Osayi-Samuel was one of those that lands somewhere between a yellow and a red, but overall he was very decent with all cards and major decisions correct.
By then Hull had realised this was all there for them. They slung Tom Eaves on after 66 minutes and he almost scored immediately with his first touch – a header down from a right wing cross that Lumley scrambled wide of the bottom corner. Having fartarsed about with one of the weakest opponents we’ve faced at Loftus Road this season in the first hour, QPR now suddenly found themselves in a proper game with the visitors stirred into life and chasing the win. Rangers like a lazy teenager who’d half heartedly revised, now plunged into an A Level physics exam. De Wijs was booked for a bad foul and some afters on Wells, Honeyman likewise for hacking down Eze who’d almost completely disappeared from the game in the final half hour. The Tigers meant business now, looking far better with Bowen playing off a main striker, and although QPR might have thought they’d got away with it when Eaves volleyed yards wide three minutes from time they were miles off the pace by this stage and there for the taking.
QPR: Lumley 3; Rangel 7, Hall 6, Leistner 6, Manning 6; Amos 6 (Smith 66, 5), Ball 6; Osayi-Samuel 7, Chair 7 (Hugill 79, 4), Eze 6; Wells 5
Subs not used: Kane, Wallace, Pugh, Kelly
Goals: Chair 20 (assisted Manning)
Hull: Long 6; Lichaj 6, Burke 6, De Wijs 7, Kingsley 4 (Pennington 37, 6); Honeyman 6 (Batty 77, 6), Lopes 6; Bowler 6, Irvine 6, Grosicki 6 (Eaves 66, 7); Bowen 5
Subs not used: Tafazolli, Ingram, Bonds, Berry
Goals: Honeyman 32 (assisted Bowler), Irvine 89 (assisted Bowen)
Bookings: De Wijs 64 (foul), Honeyman 75 (foul)
Referee – Gavin Ward (Surrey) 6 Not too bad, although the now weekly complaint about lousy time keeping applies again. A first half of two goals, a substitution, two big injuries and Reece Burke’s long, slow, drawn-out treatment and walk off the pitch for nothing very much brought only three added minutes, which felt like a bit of a joke. Quite generous on several occasions with Rangel.
The first was a red card. This happened after only eight minutes and was handed out to Stoke’s midfielder Sam Clucas who, having been very fairly and very well tackled by Josh Scowen, decided to stamp on the QPR player’s shin five yards away from referee Gavin Ward. It was an action of such blatant, mindless stupidity one could only surmise that he’d wanted to use his trip to the capital for a posh dinner, left it too late to book a table, then taken the one by the bogs they had available at 5pm anyway. They’re about Gavin Ward’s level those sorts of decisions, and he couldn’t get the red card out quickly enough.
Incident three came four minutes from time when QPR decided that having abjectly failed to execute anything like a game plan while playing 11v10, it was the Christian thing to do to let Stoke have a bang on 10v10 for the closing stages. This wasn’t so much Gavin Ward wanting to even things up as QPR apparently trying to do exactly that. With Clucas off and the advantage firmly with them, Hemed had already kicked off one skirmish on the Ellerslie Road touchline before Pawel Wszolek started pushing James McClean in the throat and giving Ward a decision to make. What. The. Fuck. Are. You. Doing? Why are you doing this? Why? Ward let them both off but couldn’t turn a blind eye to two wild challenges from Grant Hall, first after a poor header from Toni Leistner and then latterly on Tom Ince on the edge of the area. QPR’s first red card of the season in the league, a midweek return for Joel Lynch, this truly was the day that kept on giving and honestly, honestly, there was a tiny part of me that actually hoped Ince stuck the resulting free kick in the top corner because it would have been exactly what Stoke, and QPR, deserved. He didn’t. It was shit. It was that sort of day.
QPR: Lumley 6; Cousins 6, Leistner 5, Hall 5, Bidwell 5; Wszolek 5 (Osayi-Samuel 46, 6), Scowen 4 (Shodipo 73, 5), Luongo 5, Freeman 6, Wells 5 (Furlong 89, -), Hemed 4
Subs not used: Ingram, Eze, Manning, Lynch
Red Cards: Hall 87 (two bookings, see below)
Bookings: Wszolek 45+1 (being a moron), Hall 60 (foul), Hall 87 (foul)
Stoke: Butland 6; Edwards 6, Shawcross 8, Batth 6, Martins Indi 6; Allen 8, Adam 8 (Williams 72, 7), Clucas 2; Ince 5, Afobe 5 (Diouf 85, -), McClean 5
Subs not used: Bauer, Fletcher, Bojan, Federici, Woods
Red Cards: Clucas 8 (being a moron)
Bookings: Allen 31 (foul), McClean 45+1 (being James McClean)
Referee – Gavin Ward (Surrey) 7 I actually felt sorry for him. Asked to officiate this catastrophic, bastard of a football match he was presented with two of the most blatant red cards you’ll ever see sandwiching 70 minutes of Ryan Shawcross following him around trying to make out like he owed Stoke an ‘evener’ for daring to send Clucas off for stamping on somebody’s shin. He did very well, with absolutely nothing to work with, and deserves a week off somewhere sunny.
The momentum had fully shifted and shortly after restarting play Curtis felt the full force of a rat-boy Josh Scowen special. His reaction to a petty kick out sparked a 22-man brawl which referee Gavin Ward failed to control or really establish what had happened. From the stands it seemed like the Irish winger had kicked out at Scowen which in turn angered the Rangers bench along with Furlong and Lynch. An attempt to save face saw him crumble in a heap as Lynch seemed intent on taking his hatred of the FA Cup/football/life out on one of the home side's men.
Of course a red card here would have been massive for QPR, the game in the position it was, but Ward decided take the easy option to book everyone he could see including members of the coaching teams.
Portsmouth: MacGillivray 5, Walkes 6, Whatmough 6, Clarke 7, Brown 6, Naylor 6, Donohue 6 (Close 80, -), Evans 6, Dennis 7, Curtis 6, Pitman 5
Subs not used: Burgess, Morris, Maloney, May, Bass, Haunstrup.
Goals: Lynch og 63 (assisted Brown)
Booked: Whatmough, Brown 77 (fighting), Curtis 77 (fighting)
QPR: Lumley 5; Furlong 5, Leistner 5, Lynch 5, Bidwell 5; Manning 4, Scowen 6; Freeman 7, Oteh 6 (Samuel 65, 6), Wszolek 5 (Smith 71, 6); Wells 6 (Chair 90, -)
Subs not used: Ingram, Hall, Cousins, Kakay
Booked: Manning 45 (dissent), Lynch 77 (dissent)
Goals: Wells 74 (assisted Freeman)
Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey) 4 Made some of the most bizarre decisions which weren't overly influential on the game. Booked Manning for passing the ball back towards a Portsmouth player yet let Clarke off for hammering the ball away on the whistle. Told Oteh to get up after being sandwiched by a number of defenders yet penalized Scowen and Manning for the same challenge less than 30 seconds later. Missed a late over-the-ball tackle on Scowen’s ankle towards the end of the game, failing to even award a free kick.
The result was an isolated Lewis Grabban getting a right bastarding at the hands of Toni Leistner, and succession of hopeful/hopeless balls threaded straight through to Joe Lumley. At the base of the midfield, Josh Scowen The Goblin Boy was back to his ratting best, and Mass Luongo continued his return to form. Guediora dragged wide from range on the quarter hour and Joe Lolley was off target from similarly hopeful range a while later. They were being stifled and frustrated and when Carvalho overran an attempt to do it all himself before halftime and launched into a fool’s mission to retrieve the situation from Scowen’s claws, a yellow card was the only outcome from referee Gavin Ward.
Forest: Pantilimon 6; Darikwa 6, Figueiredo 6 (Hefele 75, 6), Robinson 5, Janko 6; Colback 6, Guédioura 7; Lolley 5 (Ansarifard 55, 6), Carvalho 6, Osborn 5 (Murphy 55, 5); Grabban 5
Subs not used: Cash, Steele, Yacob, Dias
Bookings: Carvalho 43 (foul), Ansarifardat 55 (foul), Robinson 78 (foul)
QPR: Lumley 7; Cousins 7, Furlong 7, Leistner 8, Bidwell 7; Scowen 7, Luongo 7; Wszolek 8, Eze 6 (Hall 88, -), Freeman 7; Wells 6 (Smith 86, -)
Subs not used: Ingram, Oteh, Chair, Osayi-Samuel, Kakay
Goals: Leistner 45 (assisted Freeman)
Bookings: Luongo 65 (foul)
Referee – Gavin Ward (Surrey) 7 Something else QPR have negative history with that went surprisingly well on Saturday. Rangers couldn’t argue with the hefty amount of stoppage time at the end given the time wasting that had been going on. The bookings he did give were justified but Forest perhaps had cause to feel aggrieved that both Luongo (before he was booked) and particularly Scowen escaped cards for tackles that looked at least a yellow to me from an admittedly bad vantage point. Decent though.
Remarkably, Peterborough stuck with it through to half time as well, Evans seemingly too busy sarcastically applauding everything referee Gavin Ward did and said to correct a clear and obvious deficiency in his team. Among the nonsense that took place as a result was Jake Bidwell being allowed to run nearly the full length of the pitch unchallenged before teeing up Wszolek for a blocked shot. Inspired, Leistner decided to do likewise, bundling/bumbling/rampaging his way right down the middle of the pitch looking like a man panicked by suddenly not being able to find his car. Sadly, he turned down a loud invitation from the crowd to finish it off with a shot.
QPR: Lumley 6; Kakay 7, Leistner 7, Baptiste 6, Bidwell 6; Scowen 8, Cousins 6; Osayi-Samuel 5 (Eze 67, 6), Freeman 6 (Manning 77, 6), Wszolek 7; Washington 6 (Smith 83, -)
Subs not used: Ingram, Hall, Smyth, Sylla
Goals: Freeman 2 (assisted Washington), Wszolek 5 (assisted Washington)
Peterborough: Chapman 5; Naismith 6, Bennett 6, Tafazolli 6, Denton 6; Ward 6 (Cooper 73, 6), Woodyard 6, O’Hara 6, Cooke 5 (Cummings 46, 5); Dembele 7, Toney 4 (Godden 78, 6)
Subs not used: Buckley-Ricketts, Reed, Yorwerth, O’Malley
Referee – Gavin Ward (Surrey) 8 Bit of a problem child for QPR in the dim and distant past but absolutely fine here, despite Evans’ constant commentary to the contrary.
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.
A pretty standard start to the season, with 30 yellows and two reds from 12 games, though he erred badly in awarding Norwich an injury time free kick which won them their recent home game against Wycombe. Six yellows at Reading 1-0 Watford is his top effort so far. Last season he booked 110 and sent three off in 32 games. Eight bookings at Hull 2-2 Wigan and seven at Cardiff 3-3 Reading were his biggest hauls. His last Derby game was a 1-1 home draw with West Brom last August, when both goals were scored from the penalty spot.
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