Welcome to a new weekly feature for Rovers Chat called The Rovers Spotlight.
In this series, I will be covering all topics involving Blackburn Rovers. I would also like you the readers to come up with any ideas on what topics you would like me to include, all requests are welcome and encouraged.
In the latest instalment, I’ll be doing my take on the FA Cup game & the impact referees can have on our game in this country. Let’s go.
Rovers 3-3 Crewe Alexandra – FA Cup – 3rd December 2017
When I went into Ewood, I felt really confident that Rovers would progress into the hat for the third round of the FA Cup.
The start Rovers made was exceptional, going 3-0 up inside the opening 20 minutes but I couldn’t help but feel in the pit of my stomach that something would change the game and on 33 minutes came the first incident. Rekeem Harper was deemed guilty of conceding a penalty and shown a straight red card. The penalty was scored, leaving Rovers with a hard task of protecting their lead a man light.
To be fair, they did so reasonably comfortably until Elliott Bennett received his second red card of the season in controversial fashion. From what I saw, it was a free kick to Rovers & all Bennett did was try & retrieve the ball from Perry Ng was sat on it, even commentators said Rovers should have had the free kick.
The momentum from then on swung the visitor’s way & got level within nine minutes of the second red card. To their credit, the nine men out there defended like lions to make sure we didn’t lose the game but I had a sour taste in my mouth as I feel Rovers were undone by bad calls by the official and if there’s any justice the FA would review his performance. This leads to my next point.
The impact referees can have on matches
Let’s face it, being in charge of a football match can be a pretty daunting task with your every decision looked at & spectators guaranteed to get on your back during the game. The job requires a thick skin, to be level-headed and to be fair and impartial to the teams involved. If you become the centre of attention and the focal point of the match. it doesn’t reflect well on the official involved.
On Sunday, the man in the middle became the main talking point produced two debatable red cards & a penalty, resulting in a one-match ban for Rekeem Harper & a four-match suspension for Elliott Bennett. While the suspension of Harper means he only misses the Peterborough trip, it’s the four-match ban that hurts the most with Bennett.
The former Norwich midfielder has become a key member of the side under Tony Mowbray this season & this suspension for the games against Peterborough, Crewe (FA Cup replay), Charlton & Northampton leaves Rovers not only short in the wide areas but also the influence he’s had on games this season.
In an entertaining game that produced six goals what could be done to stop silly mistakes like this from happening? How about using the fourth official? As I said before, referees have a hard task keeping control at the best of times and need help.
How about giving the fourth official some sort of live feed while the game is in progress & a wrong decision can be appealed by the team’s manager? One of three appeals a team can use. That’s just one example to ease the pressure on referees. That’s one example to help ease the burden but how about using some common sense as well.
Obviously, this is just theoretical but assistance is needed.
All season, Rovers will have felt hard done by with decisions going against them but I wouldn’t say key decision costs us, until the Crewe game. The call to send off Elliott Bennett proved crucial as it gave the visitors hope of a result.
The red card was ridiculous as it should have been a Rovers free kick & it also killed the game as a contest. Surely a bit communication between referees and linesmen wouldn’t go a miss instead of reacting on impulse, any rash decision can cost a team results that are key to their season, not just one match.
Message to referees and supporters alike on match decisions, think before you react.
Until next week.
Thanks for reading
Click here to read previous instalments of The Rovers Spotlight.