Rochdale 1-2 Brentford

21/2/09; Rochdale v Brentford, Spotland Stadium, Rochdale :: Lg 2

Okay – here’s a quick refereeing quiz for you; a player knocks the ball nonchalently past his defender with his hand, unseen by you, and this irritates a defender on the home team. He then in turn has a few “choice” words with you and you decide to book him. But – and here’s the thing – the away side are in the middle of attack and look likely to score. You decide to let play continue until the ball is away from the penalty area. But, in the back of your mind, there is still the question of the booking. Do you;

a) Let play continue until the ball goes out of play before booking the dissenter?
b) Stop play, book the player, then restart with a drop-ball?
c) Stop play, book the player, then award a free kick to the away side nowhere near the original offence?

If you said a) or b) you are correct, both of these methods are good practice and follow the laws of the game. If you said c) you have no idea how the game works, or what the rules are. You probably don’t even like football.

But amazingly, improbably, that’s what today’s referee Andy Hall decided to do. He chose c). And Brentford fucking scored from it.

As you can probably tell, I’m still a bit tender about it now. Mr Hall’s decision left the entire crowd of 3,400 shaking their disbelieving heads in wonderment. And the fact that ex-Dale loanee Jordan Rhodes headed home from the erroneous free-kick? Well… what can you say?

This was about 9 minutes in. Dale had 81 minutes to recover from it but never did. In his post-match interview, Keith Hill described the decision as “poor”, through gritted teeth, before sarcastically stating “apparently it’s within the laws of the game; the referee’s perfectly within his rights to award a free-kick”. Even Brentford’s Andy Scott said it was “ridiculous”. You know you’re a shite ref when even the guys who scored because of your stupidity call you ridiculous. And Andy Hall is indeed one hell of a shite ref.

After that opening goal, Rochdale (Fielding, Wiseman, McArdle, Stanton, Kennedy, Buckley, Toner, Jones, Adams, Thompson and Dagnall) had a collective panic attack which lasted roughly an hour. After fifteen minutes, Brentford’s excellent winger Sam Wood skipped through the hole between Wiseman and Thompson and centred for Charlie MacDonald to finish in front of the open-mouthed masses in the Sandy Lane end. 2-0 to Brentford, a good goal. But me and McArdle were still thinking of the first one…

Dale did get one back, more through luck then judgment, when boo magnet Hall awarded the home side a penalty for handball, apparently. It wasn’t handball, it hit Ryan Dickson in the stomach and he kindly showed the referee the red ball-shaped mark on his belly to prove it. Still, there really is no logic behind Andy Hall’s decisions, and of course the penalty was still given. Tom Kennedy ran up and smashed it in. 2-1, is it half-time yet?

It had been an eventful half, no doubt. Brentford were solid and professional, even if Charlie MacDonald had missed an open goal when Mad Frankie Fielding whe crazy and decided to play at centre-half for a bit. That was just before half-time. In the interval, someone actually got up to do the Impossible Crossbar Challenge, but may as well have stayed sat down. Seriously, he couldn’t raise the ball higher than his own knee never mind the goal frame.

What will happen first; Rochdale to be promoted or someone to win that ridiculous Challenge?

Rochdale had time to reflect but came out in much the same vein; McArdle’s Chuckle Brother defending spreading uneasiness throughout the team – unfortunately it wasn’t so much “to me, to you”, it was all “to them, to them”. Rochdale’s barmy attack line wasn’t up to much today and against a stingy Brentford defence, chances were thin on the ground. There was one major talking point though, step forward (again) Mr. Hall.

So here’s what happened, Chris Dagnall brings the ball into the area and is grappled, shirt-pulled even by a Brentford feller (may have been Bean) and appeals for the penalty. It’s given, but instead of a penalty the referee awards a free-kick two yards from the actual offence – and thus not inside the box. Read that again. It still doesn’t make sense. Mr. Hall’s baffling un-grasp of the laws of the game displayed for a third time.

Jordan Rhodes missed a one-on-one when put through by Rory McArdle, but Mad Frank was there to charge his shot down. Rhodesy then tried to chip the big man from Blackburn, but laughably popped it up into Fielding’s chest. A bit like the Crossbar Challenge guy. Brentford’s chances now were gilt-edged, ours were half-hearted.

There really as no winning this game. Or even drawing. Brentford were dangerous on the counter and Rochdale were slightly limp going forward. Big Evil came on for Thompson, to much sarcastic applause, but couldn’t get Dale really firing. Alfie was on too, but there really was no way into the match, no joy, no pleasure to be had here. Rochdale were beaten in the ninth minute by a free-kick that never should have been

How annoying is that?

Written by Matt Boothman on 21st Feb 09

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