Date: 4th March 2008 at 7:53am
Written by:

The Referee`s a ?..

Burnley 2-2 Watford

Blake (75, 88) Henderson (23)Stewart (85)

Once again we see the main talking point of a match being an appalling referee, but this was on another level. Only Lee Mason who refereed our home game in December against Preston can compare to this one this season and but for this refereeing performance from Dean Whitestone which was the height of ineptitude we`d have no doubt picked up all 3 points.

Watford were allowed to foul and foul with no punishment and we received 4 yellow cards to their 1 for barely anything. Their second goal was due to a ridiculous foul from a man who should already have been sent off. The man in question was Darius Henderson. Henderson scored the first, but could quite easily have been sent off before that. Mr Whitestone also seemed to think Watford were allowed to handle the ball which was a regular occurrence throughout the game. As is par for the course with poor biased referees some of our players were booked for absolutely nothing. We got 4 yellow cards including an absolutely disgraceful one for Caldwell for a challenge where he got the ball. The Watford player dived and out came the yellow.

The performance of Dean Whitestone was summed up by the rating 2 out of 10 in a report by Alan Nixon in the Sunday People. The average rating in that paper for referees is 6 out of 10. My report is bound to contain a bit of bias, but this is from an impartial source. He had no control or authority in the game it is poor that referees this bad can get into the game.

We also had the worst linesman I`ve ever seen to run the line in front of the James Hargreaves Stand. He allowed Watford through offside countless times and then he flagged us offside constantly in the second half. Officials like these two are not needed in football and are immensely sub-standard.

We did do magnificently well to get a point whilst playing 13 men and the resilience and refusal to lie down and lose to this officiating disgrace is the mark of a team that has a real chance of going places. We footballed Watford off the pitch and should have won easily despite the referee, but no doubt something else would have been conjured up had we got into the lead.

Watford had most of the possession in the opening minutes, but we had the first chance with Lafferty put narrowly wide. In fairness it was a good effort it had to go in the corner to beat the keeper and he just missed the bottom corner.

Then on 11 minutes came a truly shocking miss. I simply cannot adequately describe how bad it was. McCann chased down a back pass to the Watford keeper and deflected it to Akinbiyi. Right in front of goal with the whole net to aim at Akinbiyi shot wide. He had time to walk it in. Think Delroy Facey against Bradford in 2003 in the 4-0 home victory, but arguably worse. The less said about it the better it is best forgotten.

Akinbiyi missed another sitter on 21 minutes from a corner when he glanced a header wide with a sizeable portion of the net to aim at.

Then typically Henderson who could possibly already have been sent off if I`m remembering the timing of some of his fouls correctly scored. He was left unmarked in miles of space to head home the opener for Watford from a Jobi McAnuff.

Minutes later Mr Daydream the linesman allowed Ellington through offside and he should really have scored, but Jensen made a majestic double save. He saved Ellington`s initial shot and put Henderson`s follow-up out for a corner.

We were nearly level just before the break when a Wade Elliott cross was inches away from being headed in by Cole.

At half time it was hard to understand how we were behind we should have had the game won twice over already.

In the opening minutes of the second half Akinbiyi finally got the ball in the net, but was ruled offside by Mr Daydream in what is the first offside I remember him giving and it could well have been onside. None of the replays I`ve seen show where Akinbiyi was when the ball was played and this linesman judgement is certainly not to be relied on.

There was a mass scuffle not long after due to Whitestone completely losing the plot after letting us be fouled all game. The main culprit Henderson was allowed to swing his elbows into challenges all the time with Whitestone not so much as batting an eyelid to it.

We continued to dominate proceedings and it wasn`t long before another Akinbiyi miss although it was ruled offside (whether it was or not is another matter). Richard Lee parried a Kyle Lafferty shot and with the goal gaping Ade headed the rebound over the bar.

With just under 20 minutes to go Henderson was finally booked. Jensen came to get the ball and Henderson deliberately barged into him knocking him to the floor. It should have been a straight red, but not with the standard of refereeing it was no surprise to only see a yellow.

Not soon after we were nearly level as it was Chris McCann`s turn to miss a sitter, heading Blake`s corner on to the inside of the post when he should really have hit the net.

We weren`t to be deterred and finally moments later the equaliser arrived. A ball from midfield reached Cole on the edge of the area. With his back to goal Cole produced a magical back heel to send the ball into the area for the on running Blake to crack home. Turf Moor erupted and there was a very good chance we would go on to win the game.

Unfortunately Watford were disgracefully allowed to take the lead again against the run of play as the appalling Whitehead allowed Henderson to foul Caldwell to make room for his team mate Stewart to fire in Watford`s second. It came from a free kick which was crossed in took a couple of bobbles off players and then fell to one time Burnley target (if memory serves me correctly) Jordan Stewart who shot into the top corner. Before the free kick Henderson seemed to be in love with Caldwell; he had him in an embrace and this carried on after the free kick was taken resulting in Caldwell being dragged to the floor, thus making space for Stewart to shoot on goal.

Lafferty run half the pitch to express his disgust to the disgraceful Dean Whitehead, but received a yellow card for his trouble.

Had Whitestone`s interventions won the match for Watford? No they most certainly had not! Robbie Blake brought Turf Moor to its feet once again with a marvellous equaliser. An Alexander cross into the box was put across to the middle of the area where Elliott dodged the ball to let it go through to Blake who pummelled it in off the post to level the scores once again.

Moments later Burnley missed another sitter as McCann I think headed the ball straight at Richard Lee right in front of goal.

Then not soon after Elliott looked to be fouled in the box, but it would probably have taken a Watford catching the ball and holding it aloft in front of the referee for us to be awarded a penalty.

So a point when we should really have had all 3. Dean Whitehead played a major part in us not winning but we should have won anyway.

It`s hard to have any confidence in referees these days and with Preston just around the corner you can guess what`s coming there (probably the usual joke penalty). Looking on the bright side they may miss it this year if their penalty record since Alexander left is anything to go by.

Next up is Hull on Tuesday night. 3 points there for us would be very valuable Hull`s game in hand worries me, so if we can get the win it makes it less important. One of the surprises for me of the Watford game was that Mark Randall played no part after his excellent display against Coventry. Hopefully we will see him in action against Hull.

Man of the Match: Robbie Blake

His superb finishing rescued us a point and the second goal was especially enjoyable after the disgraceful cheating which was allowed to go unpunished for Watford to take the lead minutes earlier.


Good report EET and thanks again, we might have a game one of these days where the officials are not the talking point!