SOMEONE might want to give John Beaton a lesson in PR 101. The same day your colleagues threaten strike action over increased wages, it’s probably not a good idea to underline the inadequacies of those in your union.
Fans will always moan about the little instances during matches; building themselves up into a frenzy, believing that it is cast-iron evidence the referee is against them. In actuality, the only thing we can truly judge referees on is the big decisions, and Beaton got them both wrong in last night’s game.
I loved Virgil van Dijk’s response to Sky Sports when asked if it was a penalty. He basically said everything to confirm that it was a foul, though unintentional, but seemed so desperate to avoid saying “yes, it was”, as if that defied some sort of unwritten football rule. Regardless, there was contact made by the Dutch defender’s trailing leg on Dave Mackay and it should have been given.
That decision was a little understandable seeing as it was an unorthodox looking foul. The Derk Boerrigter / Dave Mackay incident, on the other hand, is pretty unforgivable. First, as cameras showed last night, Beaton does not have a good view of the incident. If so, he should not be giving a penalty, let alone dishing out a red card. Yes there’s a slight push from Mackay but, as Neil McCann pointed out on the broadcast, it is not enough to send the winger over. He goes down of his own accord and it should have been a “play-on” at the very least.
• It’s like waiting for a bus! Beaton’s mistakes are bad because there were two of them in quick succession. But is this even worse? The interpretation of the handball rule is that either has to be deliberate or the arm is in an unnatural position. Now, deliberate doesn’t necessarily mean a conscious effort to handle the ball. It could mean deliberately making yourself bigger - sticking your arms out - in an attempt to block the ball. Surely that is what Greg Tansey is doing there. And just look at Stephen Finney’s positioning. He could only have a better view if he was standing right in front of him.
• The big winners from last night were Partick Thistle. Playing in their season opener because spiritualists had to cleanse Celtic Park of the bad energy left behind by dancing teacakes, Alan Archibald’s side hammered Ross County 4-0.
Cynics wondered if Thistle would rein in their free-flowing style in order to combat the supposed “second season” syndrome. The answer was a resounding “no!” as they passed and moved way around a beleaguered County, who have started the campaign in similarly disappointing fashion to the way they began the last.
The pick of their goals was the third, scored by Gary Fraser. It doesn’t quite match his rocket at Tynecastle last season for impressiveness, but the move summarises all that’s good about Thistle when they are on their game. Whether this type of style can earn them as many plaudits during the winter months remains to be seen.
• Having lost comprehensively to Dundee United on Sunday, Aberdeen picked themselves up, had a quick dust down and got back to being the team we remembered from last season. After trialling a narrow 4-4-2 diamond to accommodate David Goodwillie – I mean, why wouldn’t you? He looks so delighted to be there - the Dons ditched both in a 2-0 away win at Kilmarnock. Back in their favoured 4-2-3-1, they looked much more comfortable keeping things tight and looking to hit Kilmarnock on the counter-attack.
The reason for the change in the first place, other than Goodwillie, was that they didn’t score enough goals last season, particularly at home. However, if they can keep Niall McGinn in the type of form he showed on Wednesday then it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The attacker had already hit the bar with a 25 yard thunderbolt when he curled in this absolutely inch perfect cross for Ryan Jack to make the points safe.
• Eyebrows were raised when Tommy Craig was instilled as the new St Mirren manager in the summer, taking over from Danny Lennon. Most Buddies fans wanted the previous incumbent to leave, but an even greater number failed to share the board’s vision that Lennon’s former assistant was the man to take the club into the top six.
Unfortunately for the Buddies, those concerns aren’t going to be elevated any time soon after back-to-back defeats to start the season, including Wednesday’s dismal showing against newly-promoted Hamilton. The Accies were supposed to be the whipping boys of the division – an opinion reinforced by Saturday’s loss to Inverness – but when you come up against shoddy defending such as this, then life in the top flight begins to look a lot easier. Steven Anderson fell over the ball, Ross County shipped in four and yet that might still be the most badly defended goal of the midweek. Why close down the attacker when you can let him run to the edge of the box before having a shot?
Ok, time to hand out some awards...
The Fabian Caballero Award for best goal – There is only one winner this week. Way to introduce yourself Mario Bilate. What a hit!
The James Collins Award for worst miss – Plenty of options to choose from but I’ll plump for Nicky Low against Kilmarnock. The other candidates were reactionary efforts that always have the opportunity to go wrong. Low had so much time and did nothing with it.
The Ludovic Roy Award for best save – Without much to choose from I’ll give it to Scott Fox. He denied Rocco Quinn’s shot, which was hit with plenty of power from close range.