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A game ruined by refereeing disaster

Saturday 13th August 2011
It would have been hard to find a man more hated than Ken Bates at Elland Road on Saturday but there was one. Referee  Taylor, was hated by not just the Leeds fans, but also by the Middlesbrough fans for a large proportion of the game. Since qualifying as a referee myself, I've found it hard to criticize my refereeing colleagues. Today was the exception.

The game finished with just 19 men on the field, with Max Gradel, Tony McMahon and Jonny Howson all receiving red cards. All three decisions were wrong. Gradel and McMahon were both booked early on for a well-contested 50-50 tackle that didn't warrant either a free kick or a booking for either team. The referee went on to dismiss Gradel for a challenge where he seemingly won the ball, before balancing the incorrect decisions by issuing a second yellow to McMahon after a soft body check on Howson. After an entertaining first half with both teams playing well, the game was soon to turn into one of frustration. Predictably, both sides found it hard to continue with the flowing football that had excited the fans during the opening exchanges.

However, the decision making was soon to become more bizarre. Jonny Howson was  sent off for a second yellow after a trip on Marvin Emnes. Sat in the stand I agreed completely with the referee as I believed that there had been contact, with a yellow card being the only conclusion. However, Taylor first gave the free kick in Leeds' favour, presumably indicating that Emnes had dived. Whilst the Boro' striker received treatment, Howson was issued with his red card and Middlesbrough restarted play with the free kick originally given Leeds' way. Replays then went on to show that Emnes might have dived anyway.

After playing so well for such a large period of play, Leeds found it extremely difficult with nine men and eventually the goal came. Pantomime villain Emnes did well before firing viciously past the superb Andy Lonergan to seal the points for the away side. For the rest of the game, Boro looked in control and could have scored more without the brilliance of the Leeds keeper.

However, Leeds didn't really deserve the defeat they received. In a game blighted by refereeing errors, they worked hard and looked a lot more solid than in recent weeks. The back four played very well with Bromby and Lees doing well in their first starts of the season. Adam Clayton was fantastic again; his mesmerising chip forcing a great save from Ikeme in the first half.

The performance of the referee kept the fans off of Ken Bates' back slightly. However, with an already threadbare squad, players have to be brought in fast. Both Howson and Gradel will be suspended for Tuesday's game and Hull City will fancy their chances of walking away from West Yorkshire with the points.
Josh Fisk

Total articles: 13

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