It may sometimes seem like it to one-eyed spectators, but referees do not, in my experience, give decisions to even up an earlier mistake. This was the accusation levelled at Anthony Taylor today when he awarded a dodgy penalty to Liverpool following an earlier wrong decision to award West Ham a goal.
It just doesn't work that way.
It's hard enough to referee in the lower reaches of the Kent County League. The last thing in my mind when reffing is the state of the game, who's winning or losing or anything, in fact, other than concentration on trying to get each decision right.
Taylor was as well placed as any ref could be when Liverpool's Flanagan went down under the challenge from Hammers' goalkeeper Adrian. Television replay showed Adrian had in fact blocked the ball before Flanagan tripped over his arms.
It shouldn't have been a penalty but even Neil Lennon, whose relationship with referees has been fiery to say the least over the years, said the goalkeeper made the mistake of diving in when the referee would struggle to have a clear view of the incident.
To Taylor, it looked like a foul, that Adrian had clipped Flanagan.
But he was too busy trying to make the call to say to himself that he needed to correct an earlier error.
What could be possible is that there's a subconscious element to decision making. All refs try to overcome it, but it's damned difficult to control your sub-conscious when the ball is flying around.
I think Taylor set his bar - or burden of proof - a little too low in this game. To give a penalty, you need to be 100% sure there's been a foul.
It's often the case that us referees don't like a particular player or team, but it's in our DNA to try our hardest to rise above that.