North Stander: Referee was atrocious – but nothing will be done about it

06:00 29 August 2022

08:25 29 August 2022

I really don’t like to criticize referees, but this week I feel like there is no choice. After all, Kieran McKenna was uncharacteristically candid about official Stephen Martin’s performance, so why not me?

I’m not going to beat around the bush. Mr. Martin was just atrocious. The big talking point, of course, was his baffling decision to dismiss what everyone saw as a perfectly good goal from Marcus Harness.

There was a bit of a scramble – six on one, half a dozen on the other – but it’s absolutely impossible that Harness fouls his man. If anything, it was Harness who was at fault. I had a grandstand view – it happened right in front of me.

It was a game-changing decision, as it turned out. Within minutes, instead of being comfortable with a two-base cushion, we were level again. More on defensive lapses later.

Let’s go back to our friend Mr. Martin. He made a whole series of baffling and frustrating decisions throughout the game. Was it really handball against Lee Evans just before Barnsley’s first goal? I did not mean it.

Like so many of his colleagues, he was also guilty of playing into the cynical anti-football tactics we see so often in teams outside of this league.

Marcus Harness reacts after realizing his target was controversially dismissed.
– Credit: Steve Waller –

He allowed Barnsley players to prevent us from taking free-kicks by standing in front of the ball. Surely the first time this happens the player is warned and it will never happen again? It’s not rocket science, for God’s sake!

But no, he gave Barnsley time to set up their defense and any advantage we would have gained from a quick free kick was lost. Exasperating.

He was weak throughout. Every time a Barnsley player rolled on the floor, Mr Martin would duly whistle, stop play, give them a chance to regroup and destroy all our momentum.

This continued to happen even when there was no head injury. This halted play and played completely into Barnsley’s hands.

Conor Chaplin scores from a free kick.

Referee Stephen Martin controversially disallowed a third Ipswich goal.
– Credit: Steve Waller –

The point about this is – will anything ever be done about poor performance by referees? Glaring mistakes like Mr Martin’s on Saturday don’t just change games – they potentially alter entire seasons. Who knows what difference those two lost points will make at the end of the campaign?

But we all know what will happen. McKenna will likely be in trouble for his outburst, bureaucracy will close ranks, and Mr. Martin will escape any form of punishment.

Let’s move on. Of course, if our defense had been its usual tightness, we wouldn’t be worried about a disallowed goal. We conceded two shocks. As has been pointed out, both Barnsley scorers didn’t need to jump for their headers!

I very rarely criticize McKenna’s selections, as I know they are well thought out. But I must say that I did not agree with the recall of Freddie Ladapo.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna on the touchline.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna on the touchline.
– Credit: Steve Waller –

This meant Tyreece John-Jules fell into a number ten role and Marcus Harness was left out. It did not work. Ladapo struggles for goals and confidence, and that now seems to be affecting his whole game. I thought he was disappointing on Saturday and missed the one big chance that came his way.

We all know we can expect more games like the Barnsley game when the visitors set up with a wall of players guarding their goal and trying to frustrate us, stop us playing our football. Barnsley will be delighted with a point.

I have to say that our track record of dealing with these tactics is not great. We have won only four of our last ten home league games since February. One in three this season. We need to find ways to deal with negative and embarrassing tactics – because there will be a lot to deal with!

That said, it’s still a stunning start to the season. We would all have taken that before the big kick-off at the end of July. Of course, there will be frustrating days like Saturday. Not too much, hopefully.

North Stander: Referee was atrocious – but nothing will be done about it

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