Swindon Town 2-2 Port Vale: Referee stuns Town

Referee Brendan Malone had no control throughout the scrappy two goal draw between Swindon Town and Port Vale before completely losing it at the end of the game, reports @Woody2402.

I headed to the County Ground, always nicknamed Mecca and never SN1 by your correspondent, with my mind whirling with apprehension. Not just about penning the match report. Would this be the last time I see Michael Smith or Yaser Kasim? No one has been linked to the Iraqi Pirlo but surely it’s only a matter of time..? Will Nathan Byrne be another seven figure departure as the rumours suggest..?

With Jon Obika unavailable through injury, I assumed Smith would start up front. If he gets injured, with Miles Storey frozen out by Lee Power (Supreme Leader)* would Byrne replace him up top and end up being sold as a striker? Would Raphael Rossi-Branco have a great game or end up in a WrestleMania?  Could we possibly not gift the opposition the lead and a penalty in the first half? Would we manage to get the three points off Port Vale?

The answer to one of my many questions came before kick-off, Miles Storey returned back from the Arctic on the bench with a squad number of 30. Town started in a 4-3-3 formation kicked off sadly towards the Town End (never like that) against a Port Vale side sporting a Bradford replica kit or one of our old away strips. Mark Cooper made two changes to the side, one enforced, Fabien Robert for Jonathan Obika and the other Anton Rodgers coming in for Kevin Stewart.

The crowd came to life came in the fourth minute as Branco marauded forward spinning and pirouetting his way over the halfway line before finally being tackled. After a bit of handbags between Jordan Turnbull and the Vale number three Carl Dickinson, it was a delight to see Town include our own number three Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill (BOO) in the game and actually play with XI men.  Better still would be to pass in front of him to give him the ball to run on to but baby steps.

Then in the 13th minute Rodgers found Robert with a slide rule through ball. Robert cutting in from the left side of the penalty box clinically despatched it in the bottom right corner to give Town the lead. As “Glad all over” blared out and we celebrated I had to remind myself that no in fact I am not a Crystal Palace fan. The celebratory song had a certain irony when Ben Gladwin scored last year but it just does not do it for me. I was in line in the Don Rogers (DR) stand and thought the linesman who was not, may have mistakenly given him onside.  But Town were one up and how good is it when a player tucks it low into the corner?  Maybe it’s become self-fulfilling in my mind but I’ve always felt over the forty years of following Town we have not shot low enough often enough as it is so much more difficult for the ‘keeper to save.

Then in the 21st minute Rodgers gave the ball away to the Vale number nine, Uche Ikpeazu who bundled his way past Branco and Jordan Turnbull with the help of a ricochet or two and then had the simplest of tasks to slot the equaliser beyond Lawrence Vigouroux.

The rest of the first half was noticeable for some fairly scrappy play as referee Malone lost control but Town never looked in any danger.  Some of our fans in DR stand got a bit restless as the half went on. Seeing that support means “to agree with and give encouragement to someone or something because you want him, her or it to succeed”, a vocal minority would do well to remember this.

Other than excellent link up play between the Iraqi Pirlo, Robert and BOO the half was most noticeable for the feigning and faking of Vale players.  First culprit, the goalkeeper Jak Alnwick who Byrne was particularly unhappy with and then the multiple offender Ikpeazu who was lucky to stay on the park with his antics.

The second half started promisingly with Byrne running on to a great through ball in front of him and winning a corner following a mazy run.  From then for the next 15 or so minutes it was all Vale, with linesman and referee errors compounding the home crowd frustration. Then on 66 minutes the ball broke to Rodgers in the box and he converted coolly through the ‘keeper’s legs to give the Town a 2-1 lead against the run of play.

Rodgers and Robert were replaced by Drissa Traore and Kevin Stewart as Town tried to see out the game.  Despite retreating they had done a good job until deep into added time.

BOO injured himself clearing the ball for a Vale corner and was lying on the ground on the pitch between the penalty area and the corner flag. Unbelievably the referee didn’t stop the game for treatment so Town were defending a man down. Furthermore the Vale player showing no ‘spirit of the game’ took the corner and crossed it over the prostrate BOO into the box. The referee then awarded a penalty for handball as Jordan Williams punched the ball, believing the ball to be inactive.

Clearly some fault must be attributed to Williams. His misinterpretation of the situation and action to punch the ball highlights the importance of playing to the referee’s whistle. However, I’m still totally bewildered and dumbfounded that play was not stopped to treat the player. In 40 years of watching football I can’t remember seeing a player not receiving treatment, or being removed from the pitch, and a corner being taken over his head as he lies injured on the ground. From the resulting penalty, Sam Foley equalised for Vale as the game ended in controversial fashion.

So without any communication from the Supreme Leader and the club, I’ve no idea what’s going on with regard incomings. Can we have Ryan Kent and Nicky Ajose please and who knows about out-goings?

It is also impossible to know if that was the last time I’ve seen some of the players don the red shirt or if I will see Miles Storey ever again. At least Branco had a good game and kept wrestling to a minimum, while Smith did not pick up an injury and Byrne was not required as an emergency striker.

We may or may not have gifted Vale a penalty, but I’m guessing all bar 249 of the 7,026 crowd, scandalously we did not get all three points.  Until next time…… COYR

*nickname coined in similarity of trying to control media by not giving information for them to communicate a la, Kim Jung-Un in North Korea.

6 comments

  • Unfortunately this was a match mired by the referee considering players were feigning injury, rightly or wrongly.

    The actions in the first half by the Port Vale no.9 Uche Ikpeazu were a real masterclass in trying to wind-up and provoke the Town defence; and feigning / over-reacting injury in an attempt to secure the numerical advantage for his side. It was a shock to see the referee not cautioning Ikpeazu earlier in the half as this would’ve stopped the behaviour, giving the referee some control over the game. As for Cooper’s post match comments that “all night the protocol seemed to be if somebody went down he blew up”, clearly not what occurred in the many cases of Ikpeazu…

    About the penalty award…According to the Laws, a referee may:

    – stops the match if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured and ensures that he is removed from the field of play. An injured player may only return to the field of play after the match has restarted
    – allows play to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in his opinion, only slightly injured

    In this case, mindful that the ball went out of player when BOO went to ground (resulting in the corner) the referee must’ve considered that BOO was neither ‘seriously injured’ or ‘only slightly injured’, instead he considered he was feigning injury – perhaps to slow down the pace of the game in the final moments – a not too uncommon occurrence and one every team is guilty of. Whether BOO was injured, I don’t know, but does this excuse the handball.

    When I watched Williams’ deliberate handball my heart sunk. Any professional must know to play to the whistle and the referee’s whistle is clearly audible on the Player HD highlights before the corner was taken. To be angry with the referee is one thing, and many in the Arkells around me were vociferous in their disgust, but we shouldn’t allow ourselves, our naivety to punch the ball, to be the leading factor in the decision to award the penalty.

    There were certainly many positives in the game for Town. For one, the ability to retain possession for large periods is help to restrict the opportunities opponents have to prize open our leaky, and error prone, defence. Also, given the lack of striking options, the fact that goals are coming from midfielders shows how, if Cooper is to bring in a new forward, they must be someone who can understand and complement our fluid system.

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  • I do hope BOO is feeling better after feeling the need to sit down just as Port Vale were about to take a last minute corner. I hope his ‘injury’ won’t stop him from being available for the weekend.

    Sometimes you reap what you sow!

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  • “against a Port Vale side sporting a Bradford replica kit or one of our old away strips”

    Sorry to disappoint, but this is a modern day version of Port Vale’s black and gold stripes from the early 1950s’.

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  • R.I.P Boo.

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  • Vale original kit and Swindon don’t need lessons from anyone on time wasting .

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  • I think most are disappointed by the throwing away of 2 well earned points eked out against a robust Vale side. We were pretty dominant throughout and should have been well clear by the final whistle.

    Whilst I was bemused by the referee’s decisions throughout, the only reason we gave the game away was not because of the ref, but because one if our players stupidly handballed in the box…. A learning experience…..as I’m sick of hearing!

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