Scott dips down for Wycombe clash - Referee
Thursday, 14th Jan 2021 13:58 by Clive Whittingham
Premier League referee Graham Scott randomly drops down to the Championship this Saturday for his first QPR appointment since 2014 as the R’s host Wycombe.
Referee >>> Graham Scott (Oxfordshire), first QPR appointment since a 2-0 win at Birmingham in March 2014.
Assistants >>> Peter Kirkup (Northants) and Mark Russell (Somerset)
Fourth Official >>> Sam Purkiss (London)
The first, after a quarter of an hour, came direct from a free kick. Kevin Doyle showed a decent touch of the ball when he turned smartly and accelerated towards the Birmingham penalty area but Paul Robinson, who has made a career in the game as a thug for hire, pole-axed the Irish international on the edge of the area and received an early yellow card from referee Graham Scott for his troubles. Robinson probably thought he’d done the right thing, giving his defence a chance to get good numbers back and regroup, but he’d reckoned without Morrison smacking the ball over the wall and into the back of the net – goalkeeper Darren Randolph will be disappointed to have conceded, as the shot flew into the centre of the goal, but it was well struck and difficult to stop. When Joey Barton’s ego allows him to walk away from a free kick and let somebody else have a go, you know that somebody else must be a bloody good free kick taker and so it proved.
At times Rangers were just a little bit too pleased with themselves. Referee Scott showed no interest in two quickfire dives from Doyle and Morrison looking for pressure-relieving free kicks just before half time and with numbers running out in the visiting ranks Burke was able to turn inside Assou-Ekotto and fire a dangerous cross shot in the danger area. Then a good cross from the right wing was headed out of harm’s way by Dunne. Manager Lee Clark had good reason to ask why his top earner – the giraffe-like Nikola Zigic – hadn’t made more of an effort to reach that one with Dunne able to beat him to the ball by five yards an head clear, but the giant Serb showed little interest in proceedings all afternoon, rarely breaking out of an amble, and was replaced soon after half time by one-time QPR loanee Federicho Macheda who was little better. With just one win from the previous 15 home games it’s easy to see why Birmingham lost hope on and off the pitch long before the end.
Birmingham: Randolph 6; Caddis 6, Ferguson 6 (Blackett 73, 6), Robinson 5, Spector 5; Ibe 6 (Novak 67, 5) , Ferguson 5, Adeyemi 6, Huws 7, Packwood 5, Burke 6; Zigic 4 (Macheda 58, 5)
Subs not used: Martin, Doyle, Lee, Shinnie
Bookings: Robinson 12 (foul), Caddis 45 (foul)
QPR: Green 7; Onuoha 7, Hill 6, Dunne 6, Assou-Ekotto 6; Hoilett 5 (O’Neil 70, 6), Barton 7, Jenas 7, Traore 7; Morrison 8 (Carroll 87, -); Doyle 7 (Keane 84, -)
Subs not used: Hughes, Henry, Murphy, Benayoun
Goals: Morrison 14 (unassisted), 73 (assisted Jenas)
Referee – Graham Scott (Oxfordshire) 8 Not the most competitive game Mr Scott will have to referee in his career, but I thought he did well to produce yellow cards only when strictly necessary, and repeatedly ignore obvious dives rather than taking the easier way out and awarding free kicks.
Typically it came from ponderous QPR play in the midfield area. Yossi Benayoun, a gratuitous, unnecessary signing in the first place, concluded an insipid personal first half display by dallying in possession and losing the ball to Macheda. The Israeli pathetically appealed to referee Graham Scott for a non-existent foul rather than running back to try and recover a situation entirely of his own making which meant Macheda had time and space to feed Robinson and he allowed the ball to run across his body before finishing crisply across Green and into the far corner. Just rewards for Doncaster, Macheda, Robinson and Benayoun for their respective opening 45 minutes.
QPR were an embarrassing, lethargic, arrogant mess compared to their visitors. Simpson had crossed for Austin to head straight at Ross Turnbull in the third minute and a goal bound shot from Gary O’Neil struck Niko Kranjcar’s back side early on – if you want to be cruel you could remark on the size of the target. The Croatian nearly made amends with a low shot that beat Turnbull but whistled past the post. But an energetic start was too much for Junior Hoilett’s piano-wire hamstring to cope with and his early withdrawal, and the introduction of Matt Phillips, did little to aid the home team. Neither Kranjcar nor Benayoun are left wingers, and Rangers were horribly lopsided in shape, and lamentably slow and laboured in possession. Always an extra touch, always an extra pass – there was just no tempo to it. Any of it. The Doncaster players will have seen copies of the Sunday Star more difficult to read than this QPR team. O’Neil was lucky to only see yellow from the referee for a bad tackle on Dean Furman.
Yet again – just as at Forest and Blackpool, and at home to Leicester recently – serious surgery was required on the QPR team at half time. Has a manager ever been forced, by his team’s own poor performances, into making early substitutions as often as Harry Redknapp at the moment? This time Benayoun was the obvious choice for the hook and Andy Johnson was introduced to add another body to a toothless attack.
Initially it made little difference. Dunne allowed a long ball to bounce and Macheda was able to head weakly at Green. Then the Italian had one shot blocked and another immediately afterwards deflected wide. When Rovers delivered dangerously from a wide area again six minutes after the break O’Neil seemed to clear out Duffy as he attempted to bring a bouncing ball under control. No penalty was awarded by referee Scott, and Doncaster protested long and loud while Duffy received treatment. It looked a clear spot kick.
QPR: Green 6; Simpson 6, Onuoha 5, Dunne 6, Assou-Ekotto 6; Barton 6, O’Neil 6; Benayoun 5 (Johnson 45, 6), Kranjcar 6 (Traore 84, -), Hoilett – (Phillips 11, 6); Austin 6
Subs not used: Murphy, Henry, Carroll, Hill
Goals: Phillips 55 (assisted Assou-Ekotto), Austin 90+3 (assisted Simpson)
Bookings: O’Neil 12 (foul), Johnson 90+2 (foul)
Doncaster: Turnbull 6; Wakefield 7, McCullough 6, Quinn 6, Stevens 6; Duffy 7, Wellens 7, Furman 6, Cotterill 6; Macheda 7 (Forrester 83, -) Robinson 8 (Brown 78, 5)
Subs not used: Woods, de Val, Bennett, Paterson, Maxted
Goals: Robinson 43 (assisted Macheda)
Bookings: Brown 86 (foul)
Referee – Graham Scott (Oxfordshire) 6 Waved away what looked like a cast-iron Doncaster penalty in the second half for a bad foul by Gary O’Neil, and was very lenient on the obvious time wasting taking place in the second half. Not too bad apart from that, but he got the key decision in the game wrong so a lower mark than he might otherwise have deserved.
After that though Leicester launched their first really serious attack of the game and that signalled a period of pressure that lasted the best part of an hour. It began with a poor decision from rookie referee Graham Scott. He bought a ridiculous dive from Dyer tight to the touchline under minimal pressure from Clint Hill. The QPR man was actually laughing at his opponent such was the nonsense of it all but nevertheless Leicester were able to pump a ball into the box, which was then cleared for a corner. QPR managed to scramble that delivery out of the penalty box as well but couldn’t clear their lines completely and when the ball was knocked back in behind the visiting backline Richie Wellens was faced with a very presentable situation with the ball at his feet, the goal and a plethora of options in front of him and not a QPR man in sight. Selfishly, he took on the shot from a difficult angle and fired the ball over the bar to his team mates’ obvious disgust.
Leicester were back on the attack within seconds and Wellens was unfortunate to see his effort on goal smuggled away by the massed ranks of the QPR defence who then immediately set Adel Taarabt away on the counter attack and when he was cynically blocked off by Bruno Berner a yellow card was the referee’s only option. The resulting free kick was lofted into the Leicester penalty area and tempted Carl Ikeme from his line. Heidar Helguson challenged for the ball, completely legitimately and with his hands down by his side, but a free kick was immediately awarded when Ikeme dropped the ball. This happened on another two occasions in this match and was, frankly, pathetic, abysmal goalkeeping relieved by cowardice from the referee.
Mr Scott had a tough second half in the middle, but at times I felt he made life harder for himself. Things were never going to be easy for the match officials once Leicester had sent on Steve Howard, a big bruising centre forward who seems to revel in games against QPR. Within seconds of coming on there was an incident in the penalty area under a high ball which had the home fans at that end of the ground screaming for a penalty and Howard nursing a wound to his face. I can’t pretend to have seen what happened from the other end of the ground but the Leicester fans appealed as one and Howard didn’t injure his own face did he? I sense we may have escaped with one there.
Paul Gallagher was introduced for Lloyd Dyer who had faded as the game progressed.
Leicester: Ikeme 5, Neilson 6, Morrison 5, Hobbs 7, Berner 6, Oakley 6 (Howard 63, 7), King 7, Wellens 7, Dyer 7 (Gallagher 58, 7), Fryatt 7, Waghorn 7
Subs Not Used: Logan, Miguel Vitor, Moreno, Abe, Moussa
Booked: Berner (foul), Waghorn (foul)
QPR: Kenny 8, Walker 7, Connolly 9, Gorkss 8, Hill 7, Derry 8, Buzsaky 5, Taarabt 6 (Leigertwood 78, 7), Ephraim 6, Mackie 8 (Smith 89, -), Helguson 6 (Agyemang 73, 6)
Subs Not Used: Cerny, German, Parker, Rowlands
Booked: Walker (time wasting), Buzsaky (foul)
Goals: Mackie 12 (assisted Taarabt), 86 (assisted Leigertwood)
Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire) 4 Looked increasingly like a man losing the plot as the game went on. There was an incident in the second half where Mackie pushed the ball past his man and appeared to be impeded as it ran out for a throw in. Scott gave a Leicester throw without looking at his linesman who’d given a free kick and this resulted in a 30 second farce that ended with the assistant overruling the referee. He booked four, but let others off with much worse. Leicester were irate that he missed their penalty appeal, QPR were furious to see Walker wrongly flagged offside when through on goal and Mackie having a goal disallowed. He panicked and awarded a free kick whenever a goalkeeper was challenged, or even touched, and when you look at what Blackburn got away with against Fulham on the same afternoon you’ve got to ask where the consistency is in the game. Overall it was not the best example of Championship refereeing I’ve ever seen.
QPR were the better team in this match and should have won, but the goal that beat them was a defensive shambles of the highest order and it could have been worse had rookie referee Graham Scott stuck to his guns when he initially awarded Norwich a first half penalty but later downgraded it to a corner.
Former Man City winger Lee Croft, still looking like he could do to lose a few pounds, ran onto a ball in the right channel and pushed it past Lopez. He appeared to have overrun the ball but hit the deck under challenge from Lopez. Referee Scott was in close attendance and pointed straight to the penalty spot much to the rage of the QPR players and fans in the Lower Loft. The outraged reaction sent Scott scurrying across to his linesman and after a brief consultation he changed his mind and awarded a corner which in turn sent Croft and his team mates, hands on head, racing across or protests and explanation.
This is an interesting trend that has developed this season. Before the kick off in August I think I could count on the fingers of one hand the amount of times I have seen a referee change his mind over a penalty but this season I have already seen it happen five or six times. It hardly reinforces the message that the referee’s decision is final and is to be respected – players are being rewarded for crowding and intimidating the match official. Still, if the right decision is made in the end it should not really matter how it is reached. On this occasion I felt Croft had run the ball out of play and was looking for a penalty as a runner up prize for his efforts, however having said that I don’t think Lopez got much of the ball so it was either a goal kick or a penalty. A lucky escape either way.
QPR had their own dispute with a linesman within two minutes. A corner from Lopez was missed completely by Marshall at the near post and nodded towards the empty net by Wayne Routledge, Gary Doherty got something on the ball but then very coolly, and rather stupidly, allowed it to bounce so Marshall could have another bash at claiming the ball which he did from either dead on or just behind the goal line. Routledge appealed frantically to the match officials but no goal was forthcoming leading one wit in the F Block to suggest the Loft End linesman might like to run the full length of the pitch to help us out.
QPR: Cerny 3, Connolly 5, Stewart 5, Gorkss 4 (Hall 87, -), Delaney 4, Leigertwood 6, Routledge 6, Miller 5 (Ephraim 69, 6), Lopez 7, Helguson 4 (Di Carmine 74, 6), Blackstock 4
Subs Not Used: Mahon, Alberti
Norwich: Marshall 5, Otsemobor 5, Shackell 6, Doherty 6, Grounds 7, Croft 6, Clingan 6, Russell 6, Bertrand 6, Hoolahan 6 (Gow 70, 5) Cort 6
Subs Not Used: Nelson, Carney, Lappin, McDonald
Booked: Bertrand (kicking the ball away), Croft (foul)
Goals: Russell 68 (assisted Hoolahan)
Referee: Graham Scott (Devon) 7 The penalty decision apart this game was relatively incident free for the new boy on the Championship list. I felt he controlled the game well and showed a good deal of common sense – only once blowing his whistle when an advantage could have been played (in the second half as Delaney brought the ball out and was fouled) and he immediately apologised for that. The question of changing your mind on penalties is one I will address later in the week.
Eleven appointments so far this season for Scott, seven in the Premier League and an all-top-flight League Cup tie between Brighton and Man Utd. He’s only done three Championship games, but one of those was with Wycombe for their 2-0 defeat at Luton at the start of October. Thirty yellow cards (2.72) and four reds across those fixtures topped out with four yellows and a red at Newcastle’s recent home draw with Fulham. Last season he showed 79 yellows (3.03) and seven reds in 26 appointments, 19 of which were in the top flight.
Pictures – Action Images
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