Scotland’s top referee Craig Thomson abandoned yesterday’s top-of-the-table clash between Queen of the South and Dundee United at half-time, deeming the Palmerston plastic pitch as “dangerous”.
Temperatures dropped severely during the first half and afterwards Thomson said: “When we started the game the pitch was fine and there was a bit of give in it. But during the course of the first half a number of players from both teams expressed concern to me regarding turning.
“I had a look at it at half-time and it was only going to get worse so my decision for the safety of the players was to choose to abandon the game.
“I feel for both sets of fans but the safety of the players is paramount. I have never abandoned a game on a plastic pitch before.
“Both managers were respectful of the decision and why it had to be made.”
Queen of the South manager Gary Naysmith said: “If the referee thinks it was for the safety of the players then it is the right decision. It has come out of both dressing rooms that the pitch was not the same as it was when we started.
“But at no point did our players want the game off. We were all ready to go out for the second half.”
Championship leaders United had arrived at Palmerston on a six-game unbeaten league run, but almost found themselves a goal down after ten minutes.
Darren Brownlie burst forward and linked superbly with Stephen Dobbie who burst into the box, but his shot was blocked by the legs of goalkeeper Harry Lewis.
Two minutes later, at the other end, Paul McMullan darted in from the right but his low-angled drive went past the far post.
United carved open a golden opportunity to take the lead in 20 minutes when a reverse pass by Scott Fraser opened up the Queens defence, but Billy King somehow hooked the ball wide of the target from 12 yards.
United continued to press with King seeing a 25th-minute shot parried by goalkeeper Alan Martin then, seconds later, Jamie Robson volleyed over from close range. Robson, pictured, then turned provider, setting up McMullan who crashed the ball into the side netting from 12 yards.
Minutes later McMullan crossed from the right and King’s downward header from close range was brilliantly saved by Martin, who recovered to make a stunning second block from Scott McDonald as the striker looked destined to score.
United boss Csaba Laszlo said: “The referee made the decision and we have to accept it.
“I’m sad as we controlled the game and I’m sorry for the fans, but nobody wants to get injured.”