Nicktor dragged me to Crawley last night to see, possibly the worst example of refereeing I’ve ever seen. It’s not bias that prompts this as the referee equally applied his bad judgement to both sides. Of course, the Aldershot fans thought he had it in for us and was on the Crawley payroll. Nicktor went as far as to say he lived just down the road.
And if you look at the tally of cards waved around, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we played a dirty game. The referee gave us six yellow cards while Crawley only received three. This was although Crawley played incredibly dirty football for the first 20 minutes of the game. Bad tackles, incidents off the ball, blatantly stealing yards during throw ins…the list is pretty long. In fact, if there’s a foul you can think of, Crawley probably did it last night.
The game started quite well. Danny Hylton scored after just a few minutes but he was a little too clever for the referee who disallowed it, although it was perfect. The trouble for Danny was he turned the opposing defender a little too well, leaving him standing there like a bollard in a well. It was also a problem that it was too quick for the ref.
Still, this didn’t seem to bother the Shots as they planted a second goal in their net about two minutes later. This one was allowed and the visiting crowd went mad – the goal was right in front of us. Delirium reigned for a bit. When play restarted, Crawley started pulling out the dirty tricks.
Tackle after tackle saw our players sprawling over the pitch, sending the team physio to all parts of the ground. It was like a war zone. The referee awarded free kicks and some yellow cards but, basically, he seemed to have no idea. He also didn’t have control of the match.
The vicious tackling of the Crawley players meant our boys started to stand off them, giving them far too much room to play with. But who could blame them? Boots flying everywhere…anyone would do the same.
And then, on 32 minutes, Crawley were awarded a penalty which was easily slotted home. Going in for the half-time break, the score was 1-1 and the crowd at our end was muttering about the Crawley team tactics to injure as many opposition players as possible. It was truly awful.
The second half seemed to settle down a bit but the referee didn’t improve at all. Adam Mekki was tackled very roughly, sending him crashing into a advertising hoarding. The tackle deserved a red card but the Crawley player didn’t even get a telling off. Poor Adam was carried off the pitch and, at the end of the game, returned to the pitch on crutches.
Substituting for Mekki was Peter Vincenti who almost immediately scored again for the Shots. It was nothing we didn’t deserve. Now we just had to hang on to the lead.
To be honest, it did appear we were hanging back, content with the slim lead. This is always a mistake. As expected, Crawley then equalised in the dying moments of the 90 minutes. The fourth official held up his board, showing an additional six minutes of injury time.
We attacked and attacked but couldn’t make any of it count. One very close call by Vincenti almost gave us the glory we deserved but it went wide. And 2-2 is how it ended, a scoreline that flattered Crawley and was an unfair indication of how we played.
I rarely malign the referee – I think it’s an awful job and wonder why anyone would want to put themselves through it – but the referee last night was pretty dire.
if you want to see what Nicktor thought, you can read his comments on his blip, here.
It was a sad night for football. Thank goodness we had a Nicktor Night to get over it.