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Controversial Penalty Decision Flash Point in Old Mead's Cup Win

Amateur Football Alliance Senior Cup Quarter Final: Old Meadonians 3 Parmiterians 0

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Old Meadonians are through to the Semi-Finals of the Amateur Football Alliance Senior Cup after holding off a sustained but raw challenge from visitors to Riverside Lands, Amateur Football Combination Premier Division colleagues, mid-table Parmiterians.

However, the score-line does nothing to reveal the high element of drama which kept the calmly authoritative referee and assistants at a stretch, ensuring that the volatile visitors played within legal limits. The difference between the two sides was marked: the hosts were purposeful and focussed and, although in pure foot-balling terms the visitors gave almost as much as Meads, they were always teetering on the edge of their psychological reserves, and constantly complaining to the referee.

Consequently it was Meads who shaded meaningful possession early on, registering three palpable chances in the first half hour. However, while Meads’ managers kept their interventions and instructions to a cogent and necessarily bare minimum, before half-time the dugout side assistant had warned the excitable and voluble Parms’ managers six times not to encroach on the pitch and the referee had done the same twice. Thus when, inevitably, things went against the visitors, they fell to pieces and their managers had nothing left in their locker with which to bolster them.

This moment of truth came with ten minutes to go to the interval: Ryan Bright burst through the middle into the area and was tackled from behind, but although the tackler got the tip of his studs on the ball this contact did nothing to divert the ball out of Bright’s control. At the same time, as the Meads’ player’s back leg was also nicked on the way to the ball, the referee had no choice but to award a penalty for what seconds later became a comprehensive trip. It’s an interesting coincidence that this tackle was an exact replica of the one with which Meads’ ‘Old Boy’ Albert Adomah won a penalty two weeks ago when playing for Villa in the Championship, thus strengthening the conviction that Saturday’s decision was absolutely correct. Nonetheless, pandemonium ensued as the visitors, backed by their managers, protested protractedly and vociferously for several minutes. This exchange ended with the dismissal of one of the visitors and Craig Jones sinking the spot kick emphatically.

The half-time talk centred on remaining calmly focussed, not being drawn into conflict by the many attempts made by the visitors to inflame the situation and consolidating our position by adding to the score. On the restart this is exactly what happened as the whole Meads’ team worked perfectly to orders. This was as well because the referee had his work cut out keeping the lid on the volcanic visitors. It was as if he was juggling red hot coals and to his credit he managed the situation brilliantly.

Fortunately there was little physical violence except for niggling fouls but when this was targeted at Ryan Bright he was substituted for his own protection. Goals were added on the hour through sub Simon Richardson’s looping header across the keeper and with ten minutes to go when Simon Richardson again got in on the act, dummying a fizzing Jack Costello corner for Craig Jones to nail his second.

The visitors left their most despicable act until the last minute. The ball was played through the centre of Meads’ defence but too far ahead of pursuit to be dangerous. Meads’ keeper Gary Robinson picked the ball up and was looking round to see how to release the ball when a Parmiterian forward who was now standing two yards away suddenly launched himself at Robinson hitting him in the upper chest, the solar plexus. Because Robinson was not tensed and expecting this he was laid out flat writhing in agony and, since his wellbeing was paramount, all attention was paid to ensuring the extent of his injury. As soon as he could be got to his feet he was helped off the pitch as the referee had already blown for full time. Robinson was subsequently taken to hospital where no serious damage was found. However, he is unlikely to play again this season.

Squad: Robinson, Pointer, Chapman, Britner, Cain, Costello, Donovan, Richards (Richardson), Sub (not used) Mace.


February 8, 2017

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