It was a tale of two penalties at Kingsmeadow on Saturday, and having seen the various penalty decisions from various angles I have changed my mind on both of them several times over. It really depends on what angle you see them from. First off, for those of you who haven’t yet seen this, the match highlights courtesy of AFC Wimbledon TV
http://www.afcwimbledon.tv/video/highlights/afc-wimbledon-v-luton-town/ (Sorry was hoping to inbed this but it seems I can’t do that… Oh, well, remember to come back!)
I have a habit of watching whats going on in the box and using the corner of my eye to track the ball, rather than the other way round. But even I couldn’t see what had happened at full speed. The best angle to watch from was the Sky Sports News pitchside camera (about 1.00 in below).
It was an obvious foul, however slight. Paul Lorraine lost his man, in panic reached back and grabbed a bit of shirt and the guy has gone down. Fair play to the ref, he had the confidence to give what he saw. You will hear a lot of pundits going on and on about how if every incident like this resulted in a penalty, there would be a dozen given in each game.
But the ref can only gives what he sees, and it’s really not down to him to judge the severity of the offence in the first instance, just that an offence has taken place. Perhaps if Blackett had a handful of Lorraine as well the official might have ignored it, or given the decision in favour of the defending team.
Of course no-one really minds too much if a ref goes giving tame penalties like this one, as long as there is some consistency. And Mick Harford knew that not many referees would be observant enough to have given his side their penalty when he said ‘We were worried the referee might want to even things up for the first one’…(or something along those lines…).
But judging by the damning evidence shown in both videos, I think it’s a bit rich for Mick to be moaning about that. Firstly, one absolute fact shown by both videos, which backs up what Mick and some Luton fans have said over the past couple of days, and that is there is no doubt that Blackett got a touch on the ball. The problem was, he had to go through Main to get there. Perhaps Mick still thinks its the eighties, as ‘getting a touch’ hasn’t been an excuse for hacking someone down because they got in the way of the ball since he was a trainee…
The problem is, Mick is already a manager under pressure, and following a game his side should have won, he was always going to take any excuse going for their failure to close the game out. I have no doubt it will be a very different story if some of our players don’t get up to speed before our visit later in the season, however whether Mick is still manager by then relies on Luton using their obvious advantage in terms of the quality they can field to put annoying, hard-working sides like ourselves to bed.
In fact it could be said the respective managers won and lost points for their teams. Terry Brown resisted what must have been a huge temptation at half time to haul off either Godfrey or Hatton, waiting until over the hour to do so. It’s fair to say the two of them had bad games, yetthey ran themselves into the floor making sure Luton had bodies in the way of themselves and our goal. However I think I am justified in saying neither was quick enough while in possession of the ball, yet both players are talented enough to release the ball quicker as soon as their brains catch up with them. As far as Main is concerned, he was the right player at the right time, and a huge victory for the patience shown by Terry Brown.
While we are on the subject of poor performances by midfielders, why did the moronic minority in the JSS target Hatton and not Godfrey, or even Hussey? I’m glad they didn’t because no-one deserved having ‘Off! Off! Off!’ chanted at them by their own fans… Now this really pissed me off as I only mentioned it the other day as an example of some horrific abuse given by our own fans.
Now I’m not going to go on and on about it (well I might…). It has been mentioned that this is becoming a personal crusade of mine, and I can assure you all that wasn’t my intention, but I feel I have received enough positive correspondence on the subject to justify the original article. Seriously, I can turn a blind eye to the odd muffled shout of frustration, anyone can. Rob Dunford mentioned on SW19 that he thought the idea may have been a bit naive, and in terms of attempting to create some kind of football utopia he is bang on the money, but once again that was never my aim.
All I am asking for is for certain individuals to think about the bigger picture. Once these people join together in the form of negative chanting it has gone too far. I’m not saying Wimbledon fans have always been so enlightened. I remember when Laurie Sanchez was the scapegoat for everything that went wrong on the pitch (including a few occasions when he actually wasn’t). I remember chanting for the head of Peter Withe, and screaming ‘You ruined everything!’ at Egil Olsen as he trudged off after that defeat against Sheffield Wednesday.
The difference was, on those occasions the discontent had reached a critical mass where the vast majority of supporters understood our only method of intervention was vocal, despite the obvious damage it could have caused. Today, I’m not sure any serious criticism of players or management is justified. When mistakes have been made, the time and the place to discuss them is in the bar, back at the pub, on the guestbook, or maybe as a response to one of my posts.
While we are on the subject of criticism, its now time for my AFC Wimbledon match ratings…
By the way for those of you who are wondering, the marking goes something like this;
Sack him 1/2
Drop him 3
Average (Acceptable) 6
Above Average 7
God-like 10 (doubt if we will see one of these performances in our lifetime!)
I’ll probably have to reproduce that guide every week now, but so be it…
So where does this performance leave us heading into the Eastbourne game? Well, that’s a story for another article…