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Reading vs Norwich

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Norwich can take heart from a massive moral victory in yesterdays

game even if in reality victory was cruelly snatched away from them through no

fault of their own.  Once again a totally

inept refereeing performance has cost a side a deserved victory.  In the same way as previous displays (certain

infamous refereeing  against Bristol City

and Tranmere for instance), last nights performance was a disgrace.  We totally dominated the opening quarter of

an hour and it was no surprise when we took the lead, nor when we extended that

lead through a truly clinical finish from Holt, perhaps the only surprise was

that Reading managed to fight their way back into it.  We even looked so comfy that we could laugh

when Holt appeared to be running in sand when trying to outrun a defender and

put the game out of reach.  Then, just

when all was going so well the ref obviously decided he had not had enough

attention yet and popped up with one of the most bizarre sendings off I have

ever seen. 

How is it possible that the fans can have been cheated out

of watching a great game of football simply by the actions of an incompetent

referee?  Once more it is the fans that have to suffer.  Of course I fully expect the red card to be overturned

by appeal so some form of justice will have been done.  What cannot be reversed is the effect on the

game itself.  In an ideal world the referee

would have been able to analyse the decision at half time and rescinded the red


To be honest I imagine most Reading fans will be feeling a

sense of embarrassment that they were made to benefit from such an inexplicable

decision, although the way Harte collapsed like a sack of spuds and lay

writhing in apparent agony suggests that they would stoop as low as it


In all honesty if that decision had not been made then I

fully believe Norwich would have gone in 4-1 at the break as Reading were shell

shocked and reeling.  However, seeing

their opponents being reduced to 10 men, regardless of the circumstance is

always likely to galvanise a team and they held on.

It is a game of two halves of course, Norwich having to keep

out wave after wave of Reading attack in the second half, most coming from

floated crosses or corners (opposition teams don’t take long to cotton on to

our weakness!), their second goal was well taken and we can have no complaints

with the penalty (one complaint would be to Lappin, why make the challenge when

the ball was heading for the byline anyway!). Had Hunt shown a little more

composure with that header we might have been staring defeat in the face.

Obviously not satisfied with his nights work the ref then

managed to make more of a fool of himself. 

Karacans challenge on Korey Smith was clumsy and dangerous.  I am not saying that it should have been a

sending off, but in a game where the ref has already brandished a red for a far

less nasty challenge then you can argue that a precedent has been set.  Of course the ref did not see it that way and

decided that Lambert should have been sent off. 

The whole charade was just a joke.

As if there wasn’t enough drama to come I wonder what was

going through that Reading players mind in the first half when he tried to nick

the ball off us when we were trying to give it back to them after that

challenge.  That is something I can’t

condone – trying to take advantage of another teams goodwill with sneaky

under-the-belt behaviour, he should have been booked for ungentlemenly conduct.

As I said we can take heart from a moral victory from this

game.  And to go 4-3-2 when down to 10

men, away from home and having been battled back to 3-3 from 3-1 shows the guts

and determination that Lambert has instilled. 

Rather than give our morale a knock I should imagine it has been boosted

by last nights game, showing togetherness under adversity.

It is time that referees were interviewed after games (only

after reviewing incidents however), to explain to the fans that indirectly pay

their wages why such decisions were made. 

If we could see the ref afterwards being interviewed it would also give

him a chance to make a full and frank apology. 

Of course a mature sense of humility would be needed by the referee to

do this, something the body language of last nights ref suggests he is sorely

lacking.  Fans will always feel aggrieved until the system measuring a

refereeing performance is made far more transparent, we should be able to hear

what a panel has to say about the performance as well.  He will get away scot free with this display

and will be lining up next week to fill a game with attention-seeking preening and

posturing no doubt.  Holt on the other

hand will not be lining up for Norwich (well, unless justice is done at the

appeal, but to be honest I am not keeping my hopes up, jobs for the boys and

all that) and there in lies the travesty. 



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