ROSS COUNTY manager Derek Adams called for the Dutch approach to be adopted in Scotland after his side’s match with St Mirren was called off on 52 minutes due to a waterlogged pitch, with the Paisley side leading 2-0.
In the Netherlands the rescheduled game restarts at the point where the initial match was called off. Adams admitted the call-off – which followed incessant, sheet rain – had allowed his side to “get out of jail”.
All parties agreed that the decision to call a halt to proceedings, which came after 29 minutes of pitch-testing by referee Willie Collum, was ultimately the correct one. But Adams conceded there was an inherent unfairness in the fact his team will get a full “replay”.
“In may be, in future, the governing body has to look at other countries like Holland where the game restarts at the point where it was called off and the goals and bookings stand,” said Adams, whose team have played two aborted fixtures in nine days after the floodlight failure that halted the Highland derby.
After the players left the field in the 52nd minute there followed what St Mirren manager Danny Lennon acknowledged was “a bit of a pantomine”. Collum and his team of officials paced round the pitch, bouncing and kicking the ball in areas of concern, which were mainly around the two touchlines at the halfway area. Every time the ball did rebound, or run true, on the sodden turf, cheers would rise up from the home support. Each time it stuck, jeers wound resound.
Collum justified his delaying of what had seemed inevitable from early in the second half – when spray, splashes or sticking accompanied any attempts to move the ball through certain areas – by referencing the paying punters. “We tried to give it every opportunity to allow the match to continue,” said the referee. “For about a 20-minute period we inspected the field twice. I’m grateful to the St Mirren staff for the hard work they put in, and the ground staff in trying to get the pitch playable but, for the refereeing team, the priority is the safety of the players and, ultimately, we deemed that the field was unsafe and unplayable and we had no option but to abandon.
“If people have paid in to a match, everyone wants the game to continue. I think it is only fair to allow people every opportunity to work on the pitch. You could see in that period just after the interval players were checking their runs, the ball was holding up. It was clearly becoming a problem.”
Playing when the pitch was playable was a problem for County, who never looked like ending their nine-month wait for an away league win. St Mirren, meanwhile, looked good for their third win in four matches. In the 25th minute, Paul McGowan capitalised on the ball sticking under the feet of Ben Gordon in the box – perhaps because of the conditions – that allowed the St Mirren forward to nick it off him and flick beyond Mark Brown. A brilliant pass from Stephen McGinn then allowed Stephen Thompson to race through an add a second with a nerveless finish in the 32nd minute.
Little wonder then that McGowan was among the most crestfallen at the abandonment, and he sounded the only note of dissent at the call-off. “We’re bitterly disappointed,” he said. “With a two-goal cushion we were confident with the way things were going. The rain died down but he’d already taken the decision to call it off. The Ross County players kept having a go at the referee and telling him the ball was sticking but we’d have done the same if we were 2-0 down. I hoped he’d ignore
them because it would have been a massive three points for us.”