Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nice Stoke goal, but it shouldn't have stood

Tony Pulis was delighted. The clearly illegal training ground move so clearly practised time and time again had worked as Jonathan Walters put Stoke ahead.

It doesn't take much of a stretch of the imagination to extrapolate here that the behaviour of Stoke's players in this move had been rehearsed and supervised by Pulis himself.
For those who didn't see the cute move, it involved Waters peeling off from his marker at a corner, running around the back of the penalty area to the near post, where - unmarked - he hit the ball into the West Ham net.
Superb no? Well No, not really. The intricate move denies on several other Stoke moves, one of which is Charlie Adam deliberately blocking Waters' marker George McCartney from chasing after him.
Pulis laughed his head off. Sam Allardyce was less impressed.
“Fortunately it worked,” Pulis said after the match. “We worked on it for two or three days in training but never scored a goal. I’m not supposed to say this but we obstructed a player.”
Cue laughter all round, from Pulis, to the Sky in-crowd.
But will the FA charge Pulis with bringing the game into disrepute. There's no such indication so far.
For the referee, corners are nightmares to supervise as so much is going on in so many places.
The only person I can think of who could have helped is the assistant referee standing on the half way line. Even when so far from the action, this lino can still play a role. The referee is usually following the main action where ball meets striker/defender and the other assistant has other duties. But the other assistant has an excellent panoramic view of proceedings.
Although I was trained to be prepared to intervene in this sort of instance, I've never seen it. Yes, it would be hard to have "credibility" from 30-40 yards, but Adam's action was very clear, even from a distance.
If I was the assistant, i would have considered telling the ref I'd seen an infringement. the ref might not appreciated it at the time, but he would have thanked his colleague afterwards.
To give praise where it's due, Gary Neville gave an excellent analysis of the West Ham goal and just why the asssistant got it right by not flagging for offside. Joey O'Brien's shooting foot was a few centimetres behind the last defender's, so he was not offside. A close but excellent call. 

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