Throwback to old-style Wimbledon
Neil AdamsWhat is it with the Canaries and referees this season? What have we done to deserve these guys on such a frequent basis? Tranmere was bad enough on Good Friday, but Kevin Friend's performance at Carrow Road on Saturday pushed his colleague's abysmal display at Prenton Park mighty close.Neil Adams
What is it with the Canaries and referees this season? What have we done to deserve these guys on such a frequent basis?
Tranmere was bad enough on Good Friday, but Kevin Friend's performance at Carrow Road on Saturday pushed his colleague's abysmal display at Prenton Park mighty close.
First things first, and it is only fair to say that the referee didn't get all of his decisions wrong on Saturday.
Once the crowd feel that their team has been hard done by you just know that the ref is going to get it with both barrels every time a decision goes against their team, and that was mainly the case in the first half.
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But he completely lost control of the game, in my opinion, in the second half and made some monumental errors, and accordingly he deserved every single bit of stick that came his way.
It was bad enough the Canaries having promising moves thwarted when the referee continually stopped play and awarded them free-kicks some 20 yards back rather than allowing them to continue with an advantage. After all, the advantage rule was implemented so as to favour the team that has had a foul committed against them rather than their opponents, but someone obviously forgot to tell Mr Friend this.
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But when he awarded Norwich only a corner instead of a penalty kick after the ball had clearly struck Aaron Wilbraham's outstretched arm it almost defied all logic.
It was as clear a handball as it is possible to get and the referee saw it. Everyone inside the stadium saw it. Wilbraham's arm was above his head, for heaven's sake!
As for the game itself, City created enough goalscoring chances to have won three games against an MK Dons side that that seemed as committed to the physical side of the game as did the team from which they evolved. The visitors were petulant, irritable and uncompromising in their approach - I believe Darren Powell should have been shown the red card for his stamp on Grant Holt - and all that was missing from their teamsheet were the names Wise, Fashanu and Jones.
But a combination of misfortune at the vital moment and an inspired performance from MK Dons 'keeper Willy Gueret meant it looked as though Wilbraham's first-half goal was going to be enough to condemn City to only their third home defeat of the season.
However, as we have seen on more than a few occasions this term when they have turned a game on its head late on, City keep going until the final whistle. They don't accept defeat as being an option.
It wasn't a vintage display by any means and there were times when Norwich's play broke down unnecessarily, but apart from a seven or eight-minute spell just after MK Dons scored, the players were positive and determined and they eventually reaped their rewards for pushing forward at every opportunity to try to make something happen.
A draw was the very least City deserved considering the balance of play, their general dominance and the manner in which the players went about their business. And it was another vital point added to the total.
It was just such a huge shame that, once again, the post-match talk would have centred on some awful officiating, rather than the action itself.
t NEIL'S MAN OF THE MATCH - GARY DOHERTY: As always, everyone in a yellow shirt gave his best, but there was no one outstanding performer. Simon Lappin worked very hard all through the game and tackled well and he also whipped in some terrific crosses. Michael Nelson was assured defensively once again and Russell Martin was bright and adventurous on the right flank and gave the side balance - one run and cross in particular for Grant Holt in the first half was an example of attacking full-back play at its best. But I'm plumping for Doc, who produced yet another solid and reliable display at the back and was twice very unlucky not to score.