As you will know, I generally prefer to write journalistic, unbiased articles on this blog. However, this post will be one of my deviations, and will include a lot of personal opinions.
I wanted to post about the controversy surrounding Bristol City’s 1-0 win against Crystal Palace yesterday afternoon.
The Robins stole a win with Nick Maynard slipping in a 89th minute winner, but the real talking point of the game came in the 30th minute.
Crystal Palace forward Freddie Sears evaded the City defenders to seemingly score a goal for his side. The ball hit the stantion at the back of the goal net and bounced back into the game play area. Now, I was unfortunately not at the game yesterday, but have seen the incident on television replays. It was a goal, no doubt, and Neil Warnock and co have every right to be aggrieved.
However, what I was not happy about was Warnock’s accusation that Gary Johnson and his players cheated. From the bench, he couldn’t have heard what was said between Jamie McAllister, a Crystal Palace player and the linesman. From my perspective, I can’t be 100 percent sure either. But it looks as if McAllister was explaining what happened.
Yet the referee and linesman alike said that it was not a goal, for whatever reason. Gary Johnson has stated on both local and national radio broadcasts that he was told that the goal was disallowed for some sort of infringment before the ball hit the net. We have to assume that he is telling the truth.
I can understand Warnock’s frustration, but to call Bristol City players, officials and fans cheats is out of order. I doubt he would have been so vocal if he had been in Johnson’s shoes. The officials’ decision is final, like it or not, right or wrong. Warnock’s reputation wasn’t helped by his refusal to shake hands with Johnson and co after the final whistle. The pictures of his on-pitch hissy fit with Bradley Orr were, quite frankly, embarassing and unprofessional. I respect Warnock as a manager, and for being a seemigly nice guy outside of the game. However, he showed himself up badly yesterday.
The whole thing reminds me a lot of the Robbie Fowler penalty incident in the Arsenal-Liverpool game in 1997. Fowler went over a David Seaman challenge, to which the referee blew the whistle and pointed to the penalty spot. Fowler waved his finger and pleaded that it was not a penalty as no contact had been made. Whether or not there would have been had he not leapt out the way, is not the point. The referee made a decision, and despite even Fowler’s pleas, did not waiver. The penalty was given. Fowler went on to miss the kick, only for Jason McAteer to slam home the rebound to seal a 2-1 win for the Merseysiders.
With all that being said, it’s time for Warnock to silence himself and get on with it. His side lost 1-0. Had the goal stood, City may still have won, we’ll never know. It’s only the second game of the league season, and Warnock’s side did have 60 more minutes to score a goal, but they didn’t and City did. Awful decision, yes, but football evens itself out – Bristol City were probably robbed of a win in last week’s game against Preston when North End scored a 96th minute penalty when only 4 minutes of added on time were scheduled. The footballing version of karma, I guess.