With all due respect to this afternoon’s referee, can we politely suggest he takes the following eye test:
This wasn’t the referee’s finest hour. Judging by his waistline, his finest hour was when the Toby Carvery first offered a two-for-one deal in 1986.
He set the tone early, when Aveley’s Harry Gibbs – no fan of the salad bar himself – wiped out Ryan Gondoh as he breezed past him and into the box. It was a textbook yellow card. Nailed on. The easiest decision the big fella will ever have to make. Instead, he settled for a little chat.
He liked a chat, the ref. To be fair, it must be lonely when the wife’s left because she’s had enough of your Bisto collection, so why bother booking players when you can chew the fat instead?
The ref’s yellow card phobia did finally lift in the second half, when The Bastard tried to retrieve a ball from a timewaster, and all hell broke loose. Taylor got booked, so did Gibbs and Tom Champion, but only after a stoppage that lasted so long, fans in the away end were ringing their wives, telling them to hug the kids and try to get on with the rest of their lives.
All this came after the ref had awarded Aveley a softish penalty – magnificently saved by Carey – and awarded them a second goal, despite what appeared to be a foul on Alfie Young in the build up. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t have a clear view of the foul on Young myself, but the players were furious and our man behind the lens was pretty certain too:
Even after all this, the ref found time to reprieve Gibbs once more. Joe Taylor broke past him on the edge of the box and Gibbs gets a fistful of his shirt to drag him back. The ref gives the foul, but it’s time for yet another chat. What’s he saying to him this time? Don’t do it again, tinker! Know any good gravy recipes? Gibbs has committed three stonewall yellow card offences in the same game, and he’s still on the pitch. It’s staggering.
But… even if the ref did us absolutely no favours, we didn’t do enough to avoid defeat by ourselves. The game was pretty tightly balanced until we gifted them the first goal. A long free-kick from the back was aimed towards their archetypal target man, George Sykes, who was allowed to turn and slam it past Carey without anyone laying a glove on him.
Carey kept us in it, with the early second-half penalty save, but even if Alfie Young was fouled in the build-up to the second, we still gave Coker far too much latitude to slap a second past Carey from the right edge of the area.
At the other end, we barely troubled their keeper. Gondoh had a looping shot well saved, sub Olukoga had a powerful drive palmed away, we had another couple of half chances. Nothing to scare the chickens.
Truth be told, we were bullied out of the game. We weren’t helped by the ref, but we weren’t good enough to merit a point either. With Billericay in town next week, and a trip to Hornchurch the week after, let’s hope this Essex trilogy has a happier ending.
Lewes: Carey, Renee, Salmon, Champion, Mascoll, Pritchard, Young, Hyde, Moore, Gondoh, Taylor
Subs: Olukoga, Coleman De-Graft, Tamplin, Murrell-Williamson
Supporters Club man of the match: Lewis Carey for the penalty save that kept us in it, and a couple of good saves before that