I usually hate blaming refereeing performances for result in a game. At the end of the day, each team has the same referee so, usually, the refereeing performance is consistent. Whether that is consistently bad or consistently good, it’s still consistent.
The fact that Wednesday night’s game was so one sided in favour of Pauno’s men, thanks to a red card for Liam Shaw in the first half (which, ironically, the referee got absolutely spot on), meant the referee was consistently bad - but for only one team. Us.
This might end up sounding like a one-man rant about one refereeing performance, but I promise I’m doing my best to write this from not just a Reading’s fan point of view, but from the point of view of every single fan of a club in the EFL.
The four penalty shouts are obviously the big talking points. But for me, what’s just as frustrating is the small decisions that are just so obvious that officials continue to get wrong.
A prime example of this was when Kadeem Harris and Josh Laurent were battling for possession down near the corner flag in the second half. The ball clearly came off Harris and, despite the lino being literally right in front of the two players, with a clear view, he decided to give the throw in the way of the hosts. Baffling. Utterly baffling.
This then meant Paterson had the chance to hurl a throw into the Reading penalty area, which on another day may have led to a goal. These aren't the kinds of decisions that make the headlines, but every decision by an official has an effect on the flow of a football match. That’s just one example - there are at least 10 of those kinds of decisions every single week. It’s not good enough.
Now, onto the penalty shouts. Let’s go through them in order...
The first one is the worst one of the lot in my opinion. If he had just waved away the appeals, we’d all be shocked. But the fact he’s actually given a foul AGAINST Omar Richards has left me more confused than I was after my GCSE No Calculator Maths paper (trust me, I was confused).
In all seriousness though, it’s one of the worst refereeing decisions I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a stonewall penalty, end of. No debate. Richards has got beyond the defender and he’s been tripped. But the ref panicked. Keith Andrews summed it up perfectly on co-comms, Oli Langford guessed. And that’s a scarier than just downright incompetency.
Keith Andrews on co-comms: "It's a shocking decision. He's guessed. He's guessed that."— The Tilehurst End (@TheTilehurstEnd) December 2, 2020
There’s one thing getting in wrong, and then there’s guessing. If you’re not sure, don’t give it. Just wave it away, don’t guess.
The second one was also the wrong decision. Baldock’s knicked it away in front of the defender and he’s been kicked by the Wednesday man. Yes, he went down theatrically, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a penalty. It’s not as clear cut as two of the others, but it’s still a really poor decision.
The third one. He’s bloody saved it mate. Adam Reach has saved it. And forgive me if i’m wrong, but last time I checked, left backs weren't allowed to do that. There’s bodies in the way of the referee’s view, but surely the lino helps him out there. By this point by the way, I’m sat in the corner of the room, rocking back and forth.
The fourth one. Laurent has a hold of his shirt so you can see why the referee’s given it against us. But I still think it’s a penalty personally. Has the shirt pull on Kachunga really fouled the Wednesday forward? If Laurent doesn’t go down he shoots and has a really good chance of winning the game for us. But rules are rules, so I’m reluctantly willing to let that one slide.
The EFL and the Championship in particular have produced some of the best footballing moments this country has seen. It’s a truly, truly wonderful league and one I love watching. Some of the best moments in my life have been watching Reading play Championship football.
But having followed Reading up and down the country for a long time now, I’ve seen first hand, as have the majority of you reading, just how poor the standard of officiating is getting. It’s truly awful.
Like I said earlier, it's not just the big decisions - even those they are the ones that rightly get all the headlines. It’s the small ones that just make you want to pull your hair out. The throw ins, the small free kicks, the goal kicks. It’s just not good enough all round and, a much as we don’t like using it as an excuse, it costs teams points.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m disappointed in the players in the second half. We didn't create enough clear-cut chances and didn’t have the invention or guile to break down a typical Pulis performance. But I also have no doubt that if Richards gets that penalty, we win the game.
I really want to focus on the fact that we should’ve done more to win the game. But it’s just impossible not to see the obvious. It’s just so frustrating and, I don’t care what anyone says, has cost us all three points.
The worst bit is the referees are completely untouchable. There is absolutely no accountability or recognition that they make any decisions wrong. Of course I know what’s done is done and the decisions aren’t going to be changed now, but there needs to be some sort of accountability.
If I don’t do my job well enough, I get talked to by my superiors. If I consistently don’t do my job well enough, I’ll end up getting sacked. Why should football referees be any different?
Something needs to change. But I have zero faith it will.