13 most controversial Scottish refereeing calls this season

Red cards in consecutive weekends at Fir Park, along with St Johnstone's fury at the penalty conceded against Celtic, have pushed Scottish referees back to the forefront of the national consciousness.

Dundee goalkeeper David Mitchell looks to cross the line with the ball during his side's 2-0 win over Motherwell earlier this season. Picture: SNS
Dundee goalkeeper David Mitchell looks to cross the line with the ball during his side's 2-0 win over Motherwell earlier this season. Picture: SNS

As the never-ending debate over the standard of officiating in Scottish football rages on, we’ve compiled a list of the 13 most controversial moments involving a match official this term.

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This is not necessarily a list of the worst decisions. In our opinion, the referee got a few of these right. But these were the decisions that drew the most ire from fans and managers.

Hearts’ Jamie Walker dives against Celtic

Hearts 1 - 2 Celtic

Sunday 7 August, 2016

It only took until the second day of the season before we had our first piece of controversy. John Beaton adjudged Kieran Tierney to have fouled Jamie Walker in the penalty area, allowing the Hearts winger to score from the spot. Replays showed there to be no contact and Walker was retrospectively handed a two-game ban for simulation. Earlier in the match, Celtic’s opening goal had a strong hint of offside after Stuart Armstrong drifted into the goalkeeper’s line of vision as James Forrest struck from the edge of the area. (Read More)

Scott Boden scores after whistle is blown

Inverness CT 2 - 3 Ross County

Saturday 13 August, 2016

This is perhaps the most bizarre goal of the season so far. Andrew Dallas, without looking over to his linesman, blew up for offside against Inverness striker Scott Boden. Problem was, the linesman had not flagged, and Dallas had seemingly halted play just as Boden’s shot was beating Scott Fox and going into the back of the net. What do you do? For Dallas, the answer was pretend there was no whistle and give the goal anyway. County were incensed, with Fox later insisting the whistle had affected his save attempt.

Ross Draper goes down when through on goal

Inverness CT 2 - 2 Celtic

Sunday 18 September

Celtic’s unbeaten streak might have ended in September had this 50-50 call gone against them up in the Highland capital. Shortly after Inverness had equalised, Ross Draper took advantage of some slack play to power through on goal. Once he reached the edge of the penalty area, Draper went down under the challenge of Erik Sviatchenko. Everyone expected a foul and red card, only for Don Robertson to wave play on. Replays appeared to show Draper intentionally putting his body between defender and ball in order to block Sviatchenko off and possibly draw contact, but seeing as how often these decisions given, the Danish defender can count himself fortunate on that occasion.

Aberdeen net winner from contentious free-kick

Aberdeen 2 - 1 Rangers

Sunday 25 September, 2016

Mark Warburton has never looked so enraged as when he stormed on to the field at full-time to berate John Beaton after James Maddison had slammed in an injury-time free-kick winner for the Dons. The Rangers management staff were incensed that James Tavernier had been called for a foul on Jonny Hayes when it appeared the right-back had played the ball before man. Closer inspection showed Hayes using the inside of his left foot to shield the ball from Taviernier, making it a more difficult decision than Warburton and Rangers were arguing. (Read More)

James Maddison receives penalty after fouling goalkeeper

Kilmarnock 0 - 4 Aberdeen

Saturday 1 October, 2016

The foul itself, in a vacuum, was correct. Jamie McDonald pulled James Maddison to the ground, granting Aberdeen the penalty from which they would break the deadlock. However, possibly unsighted by a sea of players in front of him, referee Willie Collum somehow missed Maddison running into McDonald and pushing him down with both hands before the goalkeeper instinctively retaliated by tripping his opponent. (Read More)

Alex D’Acol wins early spot-kick against Aberdeen

Hamilton 1 - 0 Aberdeen

Tuesday 25 October, 2016

Just to show that not every decision goes Aberdeen’s way, they were punished in the sixth minute of an away trip to Hamilton when Alex D’Acol went to ground in front of Anthony O’Connor. From a distance the decision looks ridiculous, as it seems D’Acol just falls backwards. However, looking back at replays, there is some jostling between the pair. O’Connor has his arm outstretched toward D’Acol a little longer than it should be, possibly indicating a shirt pull, though it is still an exaggerated fall by the Accies striker.

Craig Gordon unleashes flying leg kick

Ross County 0 - 4 Celtic

Wednesday 26 October, 2016

An apparent new speciality, Craig Gordon has made a strange habit this season of coming out 25 yards from his goal and launching himself into opposing players. In fairness to the stopper, a yellow card was the right call on both occasions against Alloa and Ross County. Just because they are high challenges doesn’t mean they are red cards. Excessive force was not used and the opponent was not in any heightened danger, at least in this case, as evidenced by Liam Boyce falling forward instead of being knocked sideways. Referee Alan Muir called it right. (Read More)

Dundee goalkeeper drags ball into the net

Dundee 2 - 0 Motherwell

Saturday 5 November, 2016

The game was poised at 0-0 when Dundee reserve goalkeeper David Mitchell caught a routine cross from Scott McDonald, lost his balance as he collided with the post and started to fall into his own goal. He quickly bent his body back out of the goalmouth once he realised the severity of the situation, but not before several hundred Motherwell fans and half of the away team had began screaming for a goal. Play was allowed to continue. Though it’s impossible to tell for certain whether the whole ball crossed the line, replays were not kind on the Dundee stopper.

Partick Thistle have winner disallowed

Hamilton 1 - 1 Partick Thistle

Saturday 3 December, 2016

Sean Welsh had netted an equaliser for the visitors and their tails were up as they went in search for a winner. They thought the moment had duly arrived when Chris Erskine found Callum Booth to tap in a low cross, only for the linesman to flag Erskine offside at the initial pass through. Replays showed it was not the correct decision.

Don Cowie goal disallowed at Ibrox

Rangers 2 - 0 Hearts

Saturday 10 December, 2016

This was a strange one, mainly for the amount of time it took the officials to get the decision wrong. Callum Paterson’s mishit shot was turned in at the far post by Don Cowie, who checked to see if he was called offside before sprinting away in celebration. A couple of seconds would pass before the flag eventually went up, at which point referee John Beaton had a conversation with his assistant, with the goal eventually being disallowed. Replays showed Cowie was onside and Hearts should have taken a 1-0 lead. (Read More)

Two sent off in Motherwell v Rangers

Motherwell 0 - 2 Rangers

Saturday 28 January, 2017

This was quite the opening 27 minutes. Michael O’Halloran and Scott McDonald were both shown straight red cards, while Rob Kiernan was lucky not to receive the same punishment for a lunge on Motherwell striker Louis Moult. Whistler Willie Collum got the first two right, as Motherwell would have an appeal of McDonald’s red turned down, but for the sake of consistency he should have sent Kiernan packing also. (Read More)

Carl McHugh sent off against Hearts

Motherwell 0 - 3 Hearts

Saturday 4 February, 2017

A manager has never been so unequivocal about a decision as Mark McGhee was about this red card. The Motherwell boss was adamant it wasn’t even a foul, never mind a red card. While some agreed, many did not, and their case wasn’t helped by still images showing Carl McHugh’s studs going right into the ankle of Don Cowie. The Fir Park club have since asked for clarification on what constitutes “excessive force”.(Read More)

Celtic awarded wrongful penalty at St Johnstone

St Johnstone 2 - 5 Celtic

Sunday 5 February, 2017

The incident which helped swing the game in Celtic’s favour just this past Sunday. The ball struck the hip of Keith Watson before clipping off the underside of the defender’s elbow. It was not a foul and referee Craig Thomson has since phoned Tommy Wright to apologise for the error. (Read More)