Ref Review: Mark Halsey praises Tottenham v Manchester City officiating but says United got away with one

Alex Vryzakis discusses Ander Herrera’s challenge on Joe Allen, Bournemouth’s call for handball against Watford and Raheem Sterling‘s clash with Danny Rose, in the last weekend of the Premier League before the international break. Mark Halsey from is back to cast his eye over the weekend’s key issues.


Marriner’s miss pains Rose

Game: Tottenham 2 – 0 Manchester City

Ref: Andre Marriner

Being a referee can be a tumultuous job at the best of times, and no matter how well you are doing, one stumble can throw everything off kilter. Such was Andre Marriner’s topsy turvy Sunday performance at White Hart Lane.

It started out well, with two possible penalty decisions adjudged correctly. The first came as Belgium’s Jan Vertonghen was forced into a last-ditch tackle on Sergio Aguero, managing to get the ball cleanly in the process. Though City protested loudly and at length, Marriner was right to wave play on. The second incident was far more clear-cut. As Dele Alli powerfully ran through on goal – as he is wont to do – Fernandinho swiped twice at his legs, knocking him to the ground. It was a nailed-on penalty, and Marriner was right on the spot to signal for it.

He would have been forgiven for thinking the afternoon was going well. And yet, it was a seemingly easy decision that knocked him for six. Raheem Sterling went in for the tackle with Danny Rose, and somehow ended up plunging his studs into Rose’s leg. It was a ridiculous challenge, and a clear red-card offence. What’s more was that Marriner was less than five yards away and right in line with the offending boot. Yet he gave nothing. It was an astonishing oversight, rightly reminding commentators of a previous incident involving Winston Reid and Aguero a few weeks back.

Marriner should get out of this habit, and fast.

Grade: C-. An astonishing oversight from a usually competent referee.

Mark Halsey’s Verdict

Everyone was talking about what a great spectacle the match at White Hart Lane but Andre’s game management was excellent. When you look at how Jon Moss refereed the Everton match on Friday night, there were so many unnecessary cautions and you wonder would it have been the same had he been in charge of the Spurs match.

Jon was also wrong in law to award Everton’s goal because it should have been an in-direct free-kick rather than direct. Damien Delaney should have been penalised for dangerous play as there was no contact which means an in-direct free-kick, so once the free-kick was taken Crystal Palace should have been able to restart with a goal kick.

But Andre handled the match extremely well; his interpretation of reckless was spot on in the Raheem Sterling challenge so he got that one bang on.


Dean’s nouse gets the job done

Game: Watford 2 – 2 Bournemouth

Ref: Mike Dean

Mike Dean is a referee who gets a lot of stick. While much of it’s simply the part and parcel of being a referee, the performances that show a fundamental ability to allow a game to flow naturally and as fairly as possible should be applauded – no matter the inclination to berate.

A classic example of good refereeing is the allowance of advantage when a player has committed a yellow-card offence. After José Holebas was essentially taken out in the opposing team’s half, Dean allowed play to go on, giving Watford a chance on goal that would’ve been lost had he taken action immediately. After the ball went out of play, Dean returned and booked the offending player, ensuring that justice was done, but without interrupting play.

Another interesting incident came after Callum Wilson chased Sebastian Prödl into the corner. Though when the players came together, and Prödl fell to the ground, Dean didn’t whistle for a foul, after Prödl aggressively slapped the ball away. This was essentially a handball, as well as one designed to impeded Wilson from running onto goal. Dean signalled for a free kick in Bournemouth’s favour to make up for it, though he could well have booked Prödl for his insolence and outright stupidity. The fact that Dean managed to keep his cool as the Austrian and his team’s bench lamented and whined, was a credit to referees. Dean came out a better man than most.

Grade: B+. Good refereeing sensibilities set Dean apart

Mark Halsey’s Verdict

I actually think it’s easier to just give the foul in that situation to be honest [Prodl handball]. I think it was a foul but overall Mike had a relatively decent game.

He’s come back from a few difficult matches at the start of the season so he’ll be glad to have a decent performance.


Allen gets as good as he gives

Game: Manchester United 1 – 1 Stoke

Ref: Bobby Madley

Ander Herrera’s studs-up challenge on Allen, catches him high up  on the thigh. It should have been a red, but only gets a yellow. Theatrics by Allen, but still a red-card offence – wild and uncontrolled – he should have been pulled back.

To look at Herrera, a baby-faced Spanish talent, you wouldn’t think he was capable of causing harm to others players. And yet, it seemed he couldn’t help but do just that as Manchester United played a rock-bottom Stoke.

Bobby Madley was having a fine game until Herrera set his sights on winning a challenge with Joe Allen, who incidentally went on to score the crucial equaliser for his struggling side. Though Herrera was clearly going for the ball, the Spaniard’s studs landed in the Welshman’s right thigh, causing him to crumple in pain. Replays made the tackle look even worse than first assumed.

To many people’s surprise, Madley brandished a yellow card and wagged his finger at a pleading Herrera. If the ref were to have the benefit of hindsight – or indeed just immediate replays – he would’ve undoubtedly sent Herrera off, for the pretty wild tackle. The fact that his studs were high enough to sink into an opposing player’s thigh speaks volumes.

Grade: B-. A slight misjudgement shouldn’t tarnish Madley’s overall performance.

Mark Halsey’s Verdict

You have to look at his position when Ander Herrera fouls Joe Allen and he hasn’t got the best of views. He’s behind play so his view of how high the foot actually is is skewed by the player himself.

If he’s side on and in a better position I think the colour of the card would have been very different so Mark Hughes has a right to be a bit upset by that one. It’s certainly a red card but United will feel hard done by over a few decisions in recent weeks themselves.


Decision of the Week – Laurent Koscielny’s goal vs Burnley

It’s handball and a foul for me, you have to look at the consequences of the decision and wonder what the decision would be if it was the other way around?

We’ve seen red cards in recent weeks where a defender has blocked a goal with his arm and if this was a Burnley defender blocking an effort you have to ask what the decision would be? It would likely be a red card and a penalty to Arsenal and this is the same situation.

The assistant referee should be helping the referee too; he’s bang in line and got a perfect view. He’s probably used luck rather than judgement to spot Koscielny isn’t offside but for me that goal has to be ruled out for handball against Arsenal.


Read more from Alex here

Follow Alex on Twitter at @AlexVryzakis

Follow Mark on Twitter @RefereeHalsey and


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