Now that’s what I call poor refereeing!

In what I think was a first for this blog, I gave a referee a “tag” when we played Millwall at Cardiff City Stadium in October – Steve Martin was hopeless that day for both teams.

Well, now I’ve done it for a second time and I assume it’s just a coincidence that it happens after Cardiff and Millwall met up again – although I can’t help feeling that, given the way both sides go about their business, matches between the two teams offer more of a challenge to officials than most other Championship fixtures do.

Last night at the New Den as the sides played out their second draw of the season, Keith Stroud got at least one of two major decisions which may have an impact on whether we remain in the top six, or possibly the top two, or not completely wrong. As mentioned above, Steve Martin made blunders which tended to cancel themselves out in the first match between the teams because at the end both managers had legitimate grounds to criticise him, but last night it was City, and City alone, who had reason to fume at the official.

I’ve always tended to cut Mr Stroud some slack, because, back in 2008, he was the official who, rightly, awarded us the penalty by which we beat Bristol City for the first time in a league game since 1971. During the intervening decade, he has been in charge of City games plenty of times and, generally speaking, I’ve found him one of those officials who you have to take the rough with the smooth – you sometimes come out of games thinking he was hopeless and you come out of others thinking he did okay (which is probably the best a ref can hope for when it comes to supporters of teams he has just taken charge of!).

However, now and again, Mr Stroud has a “mare” – this is the game I’m thinking of in particular here, but there’s also this beauty from last season which saw the official suspended from taking charge of any more Football League games for the rest of the campaign.

Now I’m not saying that it was in category of the two matches involving other sides I’ve put links to, but Mr Stroud had another one of those unfortunate games last night and, predictably, got himself into Neil Warnock’s bad books in the process.

I’m not sure if it was on here or not, but I can remember writing somewhere a few months ago that I feel sometimes our manager has a go at a ref after a game and his heart is not really in it – it’s almost as if he does it because it’s expected of him.

However, probably for the first time since he became Cardiff City manager, we were treated to a full on Warnock rant last night – for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, here is what he had to say to the Sky cameras post game.

Our manager was incensed by two decisions which went against his side, was he right to feel that way or, as I daresay his army of critics will think, was it just Warnock going off on one again?

Again for people who didn’t watch the match on Sky in particular, you can judge for yourselves by watching these highlights, but, for me, referee Stroud got both of the major, match deciding, decisions wrong.

To deal with the second one first, it’s a hard one to judge because, like a referee, you only have the one look at it given Sky’s strange reluctance to replay the incident, but the distance the ball travels from Callum Paterson’s shot to when it hits the Millwall defender is quite a long one, certainly long enough not to deny a penalty because the defender was so close he was unable to get his hand out of the way.

I think it should be a penalty provided the referee is certain that the ball hit a hand.  I’d say the pictures aren’t 100 per cent clear on that, but it certainly looks that way to me. That said, I’m not surprised at Mr Stroud’s decision not to point to the spot, because, in my experience, away sides don’t tend to get those sort of decisions go in their favour and also I think there might have been a possibility that the ref may have let his concentration wander a little because it was so close to the end of the game.

So, perhaps there is some excuse for the failure to award a penalty, but it’s very hard to come up with anything to justify Mr Stroud’s failure to award us a goal when Sol Bamba acrobatically fired in after the ball broke to him following a header on the edge of the penalty area by Joe Bennett.

The problem was that Steve Morrison had fouled Bennett as they contested for the ball, but, rather than give a free kick immediately, Mr Stroud allowed play to continue and then decided to bring things back for the foul a few seconds later.

To me, this is a simple matter, no referee, having decided to let play continue under the advantage rule, should then change his mind and award a free kick for the original foul when the ball is bouncing around in a central position some eight yards from the goal with an attacking player in a position where there is an opportunity for him to put it into the net.

It’s as straightforward as that – having decided to allow an advantage, you cannot then change your mind when the ball is in a position of obvious danger to the side deemed to have committed a foul.

Looking for something to justify Mr Stroud’s decision, Bamba’s boot was quite high when he connected with the ball and the ref could, conceivably, have thought that another offence had been committed so, as is seen quite often in rugby, it was a case of penalising the first of two breaches of the rules by either team. However, although there was a defender close by, there was clear distance between his head and Bamba’s boot and there was never any suggestion that the two might collide.

No, having tried to be unbiased in this, I can find no reason for Bamba’s “goal” to be ruled out and, in terms of the major decisions in the game at least, City were justified in thinking that they had been robbed of the extra two points which would have taken them level on points with second place Derby.

However, that is to ignore the general flow of an always watchable game which saw Millwall again prove that they are a really tough assignment for sides at the top of the table at the New Den – Wolves, Derby and now Cardiff have all only managed to draw there, while Play Off spot chasing Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and Leeds have all been beaten.

Overall, City deserved no more than a draw from a match which they began and ended well, but were distinctly second best for most of its middle period.

I’m afraid that, apart from the game’s first quarter and then its final fifteen minutes or so, City went through one of those periods where they can looked clumsy, anxious and disjointed as they show everyone why the stats show that they are among the worst passers of the ball in the Championship.

Nothing illustrated Millwall’s superiority for about sixty per cent of the game better than their goal which began with a goal kick to the home side and, subsequently, saw City players beaten to the ball on four, possibly five, occasions before the ball hit the back of our net.

Given the way both sides approach matches, whoever controls the contest for second balls when Cardiff meet Millwall controls the game and that goal emphaised the element of this commodity the home team had for too much of the match.

City looked good though early on when the in form Junior Hoilett made a big impact within minutes as he drew a booking from home right back Mahton Romeo and then robbed the same player of the ball some forty yards from goal, before advancing some twenty yards to bury a low shot beyond Jordan Archer.

There were opportunities to add to their lead as gaps were there to be exploited in a Millwall defence playing with a very high line, but early examples of the lack of basic ball control that was to blight too much of City’s performance over the ninety minutes meant that they were not taken and most danger came for the home side when they were on the ropes when defending a series of four corners in succession.

The game changed when former Wales international Steve Morrison smacked a shot against the crossbar around the twenty minute mark and, for the next hour or so, City largely disappeared as an attacking force as the question became could they escape from this intimidating venue without losing?

Morrison’s chance had come about when Bamba misjudged a cross in a manner which exemplified what was another rather shaky display from someone who Neil Warnock places great store by. Bamba, like another of our manager’s favourites, Joe Ralls, had been struggling with flu in the days leading up to the game and the pair of them had traveled to London separate from the rest of the squad, so there was probably a reason for the below par displays from the two of them and the same could be said for Gary Madine who, apparently, sustained a broken nose in a first half collision with the imposing Jake Cooper.

However, too many City players were a long way from  their best – those days when Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (presumably Yanic Wildschut’s absence from the squad was down to injury?) was the most effective player in the Championship seem an awful long way away now, while, after doing so well last week, Paterson provided a lot of ammunition for those who do not believe he is a midfield player and Marko Grujic still resembles a fish out of water at times as he struggles to adopt to what, too often, is a crash, bang, wallop approach from his new team.

It is to City’s credit though that they came through their long dodgy period to finish much the stronger team and, besides those two occasions late on when they were denied by the referee, Paterson began to again show why his manager is inclined to use him as a type of number ten as he became an influential figure again with his athleticism and power more to the fore as Millwall tired. Paterson almost provided a winning goal with a header and then maybe should have done so when he fired a little high and wide when in on goal, but, despite an overall performance that was no more than a six out of ten, he showed impressive pace and power so late in the game to create the chance for himself.

The truth is that, with little flair and creativity on show once Hoilett’s influence began to wane, it was a night full of five and six out of ten performances for a group of players where, at the moment, only Neil Etheridge, Sean Morrison and Hoilett are providing consistent performances at a level you would expect from a top six team – it is telling that Radio Wales summariser Danny Gabbidon struggled to come up with a name when asked to identify City’s stand out performer.

Still, I suppose that four points out of six would have been accepted by most beforehand as the team embarked on successive tough looking away games at two grounds where visiting sides can buckle in a febrile atmosphere – we’ve also drawn at Sheffield Wednesday since our last home league game. We could well be five and four points respectively behind Derby and Villa by tea time today, but, with five of our next seven matches to be played at Cardiff City Stadium, we have the opportunity to make inroads into those gaps by this time next month.

Finally, a mention to the Under 23 team who kept themselves in with a chance of qualification in the Premier League Cup with a good 1-0 win at Southampton yesterday evening. As always, there were trialists involved as City continued to look at Jacob Evans, who must have played four or five times for the Development team now, Scott McLean had his third match in little over a week and there was a second start for Danny Rowe.

Also involved was Michael Gyasi, who was signed by Chelsea when he was eleven – he came on as a sub and got the only goal when he netted from a Rowe cross. Another new name to me was Corey Watson, who came on to replace Matt Connolly for the last twenty minutes, but I’m afraid I couldn’t find any information on him.

City have two matches left to play in their qualifying group now and are in second place with their remaining matches against Watford and Blackburn who both have a game in hand on them – it may well be that they’ll need two more wins to secure themselves a place in the next round.


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15 Responses to Now that’s what I call poor refereeing!

  1. Colin Phillips says:

    Thanks, Paul. I agree with all of that.

    If I could just congratulate Gary Madine for the restrain he showed under extreme provocation from the Millwall defence and lack of protection from Mr. Stroud.

    The advantage rule and the offside rules are much too difficult to enforce in my opinion and they need to be looked at for clarification. I also feel that referees are becoming too afraid to give penalties for offences the would have no problem defining if they happened outside the box. Is a PENALTY too big a penalty?

  2. Jeff Blight says:

    Cheers again Paul for the summary, enjoyable as always.

    It is mystifying that NML can start the season playing like Jairzinho and for the last four months look like a poor sunday league player. He has to be taken out of the firing line for the foreseeable future, its not as if there aren’t other options. My preference would be to go with Zohore on the left, Madine central and Hoilett on the right. Use Wildschut as and when required.

    On the balance of play a draw was a fair result. Bamber struggled with Morison throughout, not helped by his bout of manflu and at times Grujic looked lost, thought Damour looked a far better option during his brief cameo. Warnock as usual left his substitutions far too late.

  3. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Judicious in thought and detail as per usual. However, even if the referee was not up to the job, so were Cardiff in too many areas. Paul is absolutely correct in highlighting Cardiff’s poor ball control and wayward passing, and if Bamba’s “goal” had stood the result would have been a travesty. Incidentally, it strikes me that Grujic’s less than excellent performances might be explained in part by the fact that he is not used to playing in teams with so little footballing skill. Looking at Cardiff’s play over the season, there has been a depressing shortfall in speed of thought and speed in action. The overhit corner kick and habitual time-consuming long throw seem to sum up a basic flaw. to say nothing to the hit-and-hope attempts at passing. More worrying yesterday was the frequent failure to win “the second ball”.

    I’d also like to mention Madine and the service he got (or rather, didn’t get) from the team. The wide men, for example, were disappointing in this respect. I don’t discount the skill and commitment of Hoilett (of whom I said long ago is the best natural striker of the ball among Cardiff’s striker force) but his constant habit of cutting in from the left to favour his right foot means that the crosses by the left foot from the left by-line on which Madine could feed were more or less non-existent. What males this disappointing is that Hoilett, when pressed, has an adequate left foot. On the other wing, however, there was Mendez-Laing. Again, I’ve said in the past, he surely has to realise that it’s not necessary evert time to try to beat a defender on the outside in order to cross the ball into the middle. And if he were to cut inside, he should not be shy of using his left foot for a shot or accurate pass. As for Madine. he did not win as many aerial duels as I expected (neither, incidentally, did our defenders), but his overall hold-up play was excellent. He is a player crying out for the right kind of service. He also showed that, even when he did not get his head to the ball, the mere fact of challenging for it can unsettle defenders. I really hope he is available for Tuesday night’s game. (In the event of emergency, I do have a theory about one of the team who has the pace, power, bravery and eye for goal to become an effective centre-forward in the Nat Lofthouse mould. but I’ve already written enough to bore the pants of people, so I’ll leave it at that!)

  4. Colin Phillips says:

    While we are talking about our long throws. When we are in the attacking this it seems sensible to throw it long to one of our players’ head but when the throw in is near the half-way line wouldn’t it be less predictable for our tall forwards to come shorter and then the throw-in could be into the space created for one of our nippier players to run on to. Just a thought!

  5. Colin Phillips says:

    Should read “attacking third”.

  6. Russell says:

    Thanks Paul your summary was spot on as usual .

    Great to here the U23 beat a Southampton side they are known for a lavish rich of young talent .

    I thought we just about deserved a draw as Steve Morrison said” this had a draw written all over it” he should have added , so does every other home game they play , they physically applied themselves better, especially their front and back two supported bgbthd excellent loanee Marshall, (warnock pencil his name in please ) .

    Warnock summed perfectly the referee errors so won’t labour upon it , only to say a win would have been a robbery .

    Our midfield lacked penetrationandand any final ball, it was not helped by the ineffective Liverpool lad.

    Madine was starved of service so ran himself into the ground and into injury .,will he play against Bolton perhaps not ? Id stare Zohore in the face and say ” show me someting ,as i’m picking you tonight , agaisnt oppostion you should destroy”” .

    I agree with Jeff’s though, why not Zohore for the under percorming MWL .

    Zohoro is not a target man ,won’ win a header in the classics centre forward way , doesn’t really like rough and tumble, he’ s just tall with a lot of skill ,it’s okay to play him wide Neil ????? .

    I have a succession he’s off in the summer at a greatly reduced fee,due to greatly reduced performances , should have taken the alleged 12 million .

    Play offs if we’re lucky is my latest thoughts ,hope I wrong

  7. Clive Rymon says:

    Hi Paul,like you I was astounded by Mr Stroud’s decision last night,I was speaking to my son earlier in the day and when I found out that he was in charge I thought that we would get nothing from the game.What I mean by that is I can’t remember a time when we have a game when he is refereeing us,until that is you reminded me of the Bristol game,old age does not one alone,but I would be interested if anyone more qualified than me could give a stat that would confirm or deny that theory that in the majority of games we never get a positive result under him.It may seem like I’m on a whichhunt but I believe their was an incident at Newcastle last season where he denied Newcastle a penalty because of encroachment of a Newcastle player and instead of taking the penalty again he gave a free kick to Burton,the mans got history.

    As far as the game goes what the managers were saying before proceedings started came to fruition,it was a battle and we got sucked into it I’m afraid and really a draw was probably the right result,so it is 4points from arguably to tricky games and I’m sure we all would have taken that before a ball was kicked.Two home games now let’s see if can put pressure on Villa and Derby eh.

  8. HarryKirtley'sGhost says:

    Thanks as ever. I agree with most of your points, apart from your strong words on the referee.

    What an absorbing game. A game that if you broke it up into a 10 round contest of nine and a bit minutes per round, one might give a clear points victory to Millwall. (I think most impartial judges would give the first two, and the last of the rounds to The Bluebirds, would share the penultimate round, and give the other six to Millwall).
    I slightly disagree with SKY giving the MotM award to Millwall’s Steve Morison (gee it always feels weird to write his name with just one R)…very good game though Morison had.

    I might instead have given the award to Neil Etheridge…who also excelled on the night. Gosh, the more I see of this boy, the more he impresses me. I like everything about him. His athleticism and his goal kicking, especially now he is looking more for distance than aiming for touch. To my way of thinking, he is coming to be the first name on the team-sheet. A class act.

    The referee started brilliantly in the (Lions) New Den, by booking Romeo after just 3 minutes. That took courage.

    That helped City make such a confident start. Junior Hoilett scored a smart goal, and had a good game, with Supercal Paterson not far behind him. What a pity Callum missed that chance at the end. Also that he feigned a head injury when lightly brushed by their keeper’s follow-through. He was up in seconds, after being rightly scolded by Millwall’s Steve Morison for bad acting.

    And talking of feigning injury: dear Joe Bennett was indeed fouled when making the header in the run up to the Bamba disallowed goal, but Morison did not barge him in the head…but in the shoulder/collar bone area.

    I understand why Joe went down holding his head because he was clearly fouled and wanted the referee to award a free kick…but by holding his head, for too long, it led to the referee making the mistake of thinking “head injury” and blowing that vital nanosecond too early…and not letting the “playing advantage” run its course.

    And , then Joe immediately gets up, now as right as rain, to join in the City protests at the turning down of the Bamba goal…!!

    So we have ourselves to blame for the ref’s clear mistake, and there was a kind of rough justice to it. For had City won, it would have been distinctly fortunate.

    Incidentally, instead of Neil Warnock blasting the referee after the game for “not being in a position” to see the “clear handball” incident, he should perhaps cast the mote out of his own eye first. For I noted in that same SKY interview, he said “Junior’s goal” should not have been disallowed, and I raised an eyebrow, but thought…”he is just so agitated, that he is – as Americans say – misspeaking”. So I concluded that it was a simple error. He clearly must have meant Sol Bamba…and said “Junior” as a slip of the tongue.

    But blow me, if two minutes later, he again refers to “Junior’s” disallowed goal…!!
    Here again is the link that Paul flagged up…

    Now, that’s worrying. Especially as they must have discussed the incident in the interval during the dressing room discussion. So for Neil not to see it was Bamba, (a chap twice the size of Junior)…suggests Neil’s eyesight is even worse than the referee’s…!!

    Talking of eyesight…how long has it been since SKY pundit Keith Andrews last visited Specsavers?
    To my utter astonishment, I heard him say that “Nathaniel Mendez-Laing had a fine first half”. (!!). Eh? He should be sent back to Rochdale if he keeps on playing so stupendously poorly.

    The worst City player on the pitch, by a country mile. Even worse than Madine, who reminded one of what infuriated Sheffield Wednesday fans…his ability to shield and control a long ball in his direction apart, a general anonymity when it came to what he did next.. I will cut him some slack though, for the nose injury, which clearly hindered his game.

    Other thoughts. Well, their boy Wallace had the beating of our Joe Bennett, and Manga and Bamba scare the heck out of me with their erratic defending. And will someone stop Manga taking throw-ins? I have no problem with him throwing forward along the touchline line, but every one went to the opposition…because he thinks he can throw further than he can. It is his duty to call players to drop back nearer to receive the ball.

    To sign off here, and to sum up, then..

    I am not sure the referee was so bad. When I think of a truly bad referee, I think of the guy who sent Neil to the stands a month or so back. And as we were not the better side last night, that single point is thus not to be sniffed at. For it might mean us making the playoffs.

  9. Mike Herbert says:

    Great summary Paul. I watched the game on Sky and was uncertain about the penalty shout but have just watched the highlights on Channel 5 and am now sure it should have been given: Ref absolved on the grounds of line of sight and lack of replay facility! However his refereeing of the Bamba “goal” was dreadful and no absolution is possible. That said, we did not deserve to win the game and I think it was a point gained. I thought Mendez-Laing was ineffective and largely anonymous but I thought Madine was brave and would benefit from having a co-striker alongside or, at least, a “number 10” in much closer support. Perhaps this might happen in a home match? Finally , I have changed my mind about Etheridge who has improved considerably of late. We need to win our game in hand on Tuesday to keep the pressure on for second place but it is beginning to look more and more like the playoffs.

  10. Barry Cole says:

    Spot on again Paul and the additional bit about the ref makes interesting reading.
    I thought yesterday’s game in the comfort of my living room was a blood and guts championship game and credit goes to both teams.
    That said I could not believe the inclusion of Mendez Lang, he certainly had not warranted that position and the man who should have been playing did not get off the subs bench. I do have a worry that having seen the Leeds destruction that the eleven ( I understand Wildschut was injured) that finished should have been given the start, by that ends Pilkington was that man not Mendez Lang.
    He played like I expected him to play and is not anywhere near worth a starting place. When one of the commentators said that he had a good first half I now realise that these people live in cloud cuckoo land.
    Like most on here the man flu certainly played a part in the poor performance in the period up to half time but I thought after the break they seemed to both improve.
    I do believe we are not playing the clever tippy tap football of most teams but our character is the best I have seen for a long time.
    I beg to differ in that we were good enough for the three points simply because we played the last 15 minutes where we completely controlled the game.
    In regard to the referee he got the decision wrong. Firstly having let play on he should have carried on to the conclusion and if cleared then blow up for the foul on Bennett.
    Had he blown straight away then this discussion would not have taken place and the players would not have carried on. He didn’t and the decision was made in no mans land, a totally inept piece of refereeing .
    Until the last 15 minutes he hadn’t bothered too much on the safety of players having seen Madine treated appallingly on a number of occasions. To suddenly change that in a split second after allowing the play on leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
    If we fail to reach the top two by two points we can look at this as the reason. Maybe an option to sue the fa would be worth a shot then.
    Going back to the inclusion of Mendez Lang , I do hope that NW comes quickly to his senses and plays Pilkington or Wildschut instead on Tuesday .

  11. MIKE HOPE says:

    Whenever there is an argument about cock-up or conspiracy the answer is usually the former.However referee Stroud gave so many decisions against us that the conspiracy argument looks attractive.
    Where is our blogger Paul (no second name)? He is convinced that all English referees are biased against us.He might have a case this time.
    It is not inconceivable that some referees start with an anti-Warnock mentality.
    I think Dai’s ghost is right in saying that Bennett’s head holding is the excuse that the Ref will give for his atrocious decision.
    Dai is however wrong in saying that Bennett leapt to his feet to join in the protests.He was still on his back receiving treatment over a minute later and was being led from the field as Hoillett lined up the free kick.
    I thought Morison’s shoulder charge towards Bennett’s head was very dangerous and it was typical of the Ref that he did not show even a yellow card.
    I thought that overall a draw was a fair result.
    For about an hour in the middle of the game Millwall were clearly the more effective side playing at a pace that we could not match.But it was also a pace that they could not maintain.

  12. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Morning everyone, thanks for the usual thought provoking set of replies.
    Colin, I’ve been saying for years that referees apply different standards to their decision making depending on whether the incident in question took place inside or outside one of the penalty areas – as it happens, I also believe that some referees think nothing of penalising attacking players for certain types of fouls, but are far more reluctant to penalise defenders for doing the same sort of thing, but that’s an argument for another day!
    Jeff, I agree with you about our late substitutions – I’m guilty of kicking someone when they’re down here somewhat, but it seems incredible to m that someone playing as poorly as Mendez-Laing was doing stayed on for seventy eight minutes. When a manager doesn’t make changes, it seems to me that he/she is sending out the signal that they are satisfied with how things are going, but I cannot see how our manager can have been satisfied with how we played between minutes twenty and eighty – our late improvement also coincided almost exactly with the introduction of Halford, Damour and Zohore.
    Anthony, I’m going to take a guess and say that your “mystery” striker is Callum Paterson – I think we could do a lot worse than use him as a centre forward and was a little surprised that he wasn’t used there around the turn of the year when a Kenneth Zohore returning from injury was often our only, fairly fit, striker.
    Russell, I’m not sure about Zohore as an out and out winger, but as someone encourage to run the channels in support of Madine being used as a target man? Yes, I think that might work, but if we were to use two strikers and, given our manager’s liking for wingers, I think it would have to mean us going with a 4-4-2 with two central midfielders and we struggle enough already in that area when we play three there. An alternative would be to play 3-5-2, but three at the back hasn’t really worked for us has it – even so, Neil Warnock has said that he wants to see how Madine and Zohore do as a partnership and a home game with a side in the bottom six would seem to be the sort of match to try something like that in,
    Clive, I’m still with you about the ref, but Dai may have come up with the reason why Mr Stroud acted like he did. I must admit that the thought that the ref stopped play because Joe Bennett had gone down with what looked like a head injury did occur to me for a second or two, but I dismissed it for the very reason I outlined in the piece – if the ball was on the halfway line then you would expect an official to react like Mr Stroud did, but it wasn’t it was bouncing about in front of some eight yards out. Yes, I know how serious head injuries can be, but we are talking about no more than two or three seconds here before the situation would have resolved itself one way or another and then Bennett could have received his treatment = I think Keith Stroud may well say he blew up because of a potential head injury if and when he is asked to explain his decision, but that’s just a convenient excuse to try and justify his shortcomings,
    Mike Herbert, I agree with you about a top six finish being more likely now than a top two one, but I would gladly have settled for that set of results yesterday beforehand – we only need Birmingham to continue their improvement in today’s derby with Villa and I’d say that, with a tough away game out of the way while many others at the top were playing at home, we’ll have had a good weekend.
    Barry, I wouldn’t rule out- an appearance off the bench for Kadeem Harris on Tuesday – he’s played in both of our two recent Under 23 matches. Also, I think your use of the term “no man’s land” neatly sums up why there has been such criticism of the decision to disallow the goal – it was not one thing or the other.
    Mike Hope, I’ve been pretty critical of the side in recent months, but, as the fine performances of late summer/autumn fade into the distance, we still look to be one of the fitter teams in the Championship – as I mentioned earlier, the introduction of our three subs so late on might have had something to do with why we finished the better team, but it certainly wasn’t the only reason. It’s generally reckoned to be very tiring when you spend as much time without the ball as we do, but, having had a quick scan through our fixtures, I’m struggling to come up with a game where the result could be put down to our opponents lasting the pace better than we did – Preston at home perhaps and we did lead before losing at QPR, but I’m not sure either of those defeats could really be put down to them being fitter than us.

  13. Clive Rymon says:

    Thank you Paul for your time to check the stats re City v Stroud I did say that memory can play tricks at my age but as you pointed out it does appear it was most recently that these games to place and also they had something on them.To me Mr Stroud falls into category of refs that bring some painful memories such as Lester Shapter and the infamous Barry Knight,I would have thought that Mr Stroud must be near retirement from the beautiful game but I’m sure in the future we have someone else to have a moan at,such is the lot of a fan.

    Thanks once again Paul.

  14. CliveRymon says:

    Thank you Paul for your time to check the stats re City v Stroud it does appear that as you have shown that the more recent games is where the issue regarding the ref has come from memory is a wonderful thing I wish mine a little better at times.I have always put Mr Stroud in the same company as Lester Shapter and the infamous Barry Knight for more than one dodgey decision over the years,I’m sure that it must be close to Mr Stroud retirement soon,but I am sure we will have someone else to have a”moan”about in the future.

    Once again Paul thanks for your effort it has answered a question that has had me wondering for quite a while.

  15. HarryKirtley'sGhost says:

    Well done Mike Hope. Hands up from me. My mistake.
    Seems like I was in good company in the “get our eyes tested” corner. I shared it with Neil Warnock and the two Keiths …messrs Stroud and Andrews.
    Maybe my subconscious allowed my “anti JB bias” to run full throttle.
    Whatever my thinking process, I was wrong, and I now stand corrected. Thanks, Mike.

    I should add one small thing re him leaving the pitch: he only leaves it because the Laws dictate that he must, once the physio has come on. No sign of any “head injury”…but maybe the quickest recovery since (the then) Cassius Clay was almost parted from his wits by our ‘Enery’s hammer of a left hook? That punch dumped him on the seat of his pants. Clay did not know where he was.

    Angelo Dundee then slits a glove to give his boy an extra minute’s recovery time, and then Cassius immediately stops Cooper within a couple of minutes of the fifth.

    That remains a miracle recovery. Maybe JB’s was similar? I jest…I think not, somehow.

    I speak as someone who knows a little about head injuries, having once been in an eleven day coma following a skiing accident in the Carpathian Alps, and have a scar from ear to ear to remind me. I am so grateful to those medics: I look at Michael Schumacher, and thank my lucky stars.

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