Why the referee awarded Celtic a penalty and didn’t grant Motherwell one

Scott Sinclair goes down under the attentions of Cedric Kipre. Picture: SNS
Scott Sinclair goes down under the attentions of Cedric Kipre. Picture: SNS
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The latest edition of Ref Review looks at the two penalty incidents in the second half of the Betfred Cup final, where Celtic were awarded one for a “foul” on Scott Sinclair by Cedric Kipre, but Motherwell had an appeal turned down following an alleged Kieran Tierney trip on Louis Moult.

READ MORE - Motherwell 0 - 2 Celtic: Controversy as Celtic win Betfred Cup

Motherwell's Louis Moult appeals to the referee after claiming to be tripped by Kieran Tierney, left. Picture: SNS

Motherwell's Louis Moult appeals to the referee after claiming to be tripped by Kieran Tierney, left. Picture: SNS

I can’t believe the number of people saying it’s a penalty. It’s never a penalty. Yes there is the slightest bit of contact, but this is a contact sport - putting your hands on someone is not a foul. It has to be a push or a pull or some other form of impeding the opponent, none of which applied.

You often see and hear of cases where the striker is impeded but he fails to go to ground, and doesn’t get the decision as a result. Therefore, we understand when some players go to ground to highlight the fact they’ve been fouled in the box. This doesn’t even fall under that particular category.

Kipre doesn’t even grab Sinclair. He just puts his hand on him, which is clearly visible from the angle behind the goal. Sinclair has to pull his arm over Kipre’s to ensure that he doesn’t lock arms with the defender, but that is not enough to warrant a foul.

Referee Craig Thomson has the worst angle for it. He will see Kipre put his arm over, he’ll see Sinclair pull his arm back (as if it’s being held) but he can’t see the fact that Kipre hasn’t actually held the Celtic player. Even though he doesn’t have the best view, it’s still an inexplicable decision from Thomson. Guessing a foul in the middle of the park is bad enough, but doing it for a decision which is going to lead to a penalty and a red card, especially in a cup final, is inexcusable.

The linesman is over on the far side so he can’t offer anything. An extra official behind the line may have helped, but he still would have been on the far side of the goal and wouldn’t have got the clearest view either.

As for Moult’s claim, this isn’t a penalty for me either, though you can see why he is so insistent that it’s a foul. From his perspective, he’s running towards goal, getting ready for a cross to come into the centre, and he’s tripped up. There’s a real sense of injustice that he’s been denied a goalscoring opportunity by the leg of an opponent. However, it still doesn’t mean it should have been a penalty.

It’s an accidental coming together of two players away from the ball. Tierney is running back to try and get goal side, and Moult begins to check his run to anticipate the cross. There wasn’t a push or a trip or anything like that, just two guys getting tangled up. It was as much instigated by Moult changing his direction and speed as it was by Tierney, who appears to be trying to get around his opponent when the contact takes place.

Referee Craig Thomson is nowhere near the incident due to the speed of the break. He was in the Motherwell box (as he should have been) and then there was a really quick counter-attack. Even though the move slowed a little when it went out to Craig Tanner on the left wing, he still wouldn’t have been much closer than 30 yards away. He can’t be sure it’s a foul and therefore shouldn’t give the penalty, which makes it more galling from a Motherwell perspective that he did so at the other end.

He’s probably relying on his far side assistant, who had a reasonably good view of the relative movements of the two players involved.

• Craig Anderson is a former fully qualified referee. He is also the man behind SPL Stats on Twitter.

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