In the first edition of Ref Review for the new SPFL league season Joel Sked talks to former fully qualified referee Craig Anderson about the contentious decisions during Aberdeen’s 1-1 draw with Rangers.
The aftermath of Rangers’ 1-1 draw with Aberdeen at Pittodrie was dominated by Kevin Clancy’s decision to send off Colombian striker Alfredo Morelos.
Bruce Anderson’s stoppage time equaliser rescued a point for Derek McInnes’ men, denying Rangers manager Steven Gerrard a debut league win after his team played with 10 men for close to 80 minutes and led from the 30th minute.
Referee Kevin Clancy’s decision to show Morelos a red card for a kick at Aberdeen centre-back Scott McKenna prompted Rangers boss Steven Gerrard to hit out at officiating in Scotland.
“It seems like the world is against us today,” he said. “But we’ll make sure we get better for that because it looks like some more decisions will go against us as the season goes on.
“We need to try and use it to our advantage. It’s not just today, I believe it’s been happening for seasons. That’s just my opinion.”
As for the incident itself, Gerrard talked about McKenna’s part in the sending off and said “no way in the world” was Morelos’ kick violent and worth a red card.
Craig Anderson, former fully qualified referee, believes a yellow card would have sufficed since the kick could not be deemed to have “excessive force or brutality”.
He said: “McKenna is certainly the player who initiates the incident. He is marking Morelos tightly and gives him a nudge to let him know he is there and also to hold his own ground. Morelos briefly drops deeper to look for a pass, but then tries to get close to McKenna again.
“McKenna then barges across with his chest - Steven Gerrard described it as a ‘violent barge’, but this is the sort of incident which happens between defenders and strikers on a regular basis as they try to gain a yard of space - the likes of Kris Boyd and Steven Thompson commented on this in their punditry. It’s clear McKenna saw it as an opportunity to wind up Morelos too.
“Morelos responds to this by throwing his leg out, and from the slow motion angle on Sportscene you could clearly see that it was a kick.
“However, I am by no means convinced that this merited a red card. The definition of violent conduct is “excessive force or brutality”, and in this case I do not think that it really applied here - there appeared to be minimal force in the kick.
“I think a yellow card would have been fine, although a red is not an objectively incorrect decision, since the nature of the force it is down to the opinion of the referee.
He added: “It wasn’t entirely clear to me exactly how the decision was made. The assistant on the far touchline did not appear to flag immediately, but nor did the referee stop the game.
“It is likely that the decision must have been made after some consultation on the video headset, but I am not sure which of the two would have made the final decision that the kick merited a red card for violent conduct.”
The red card was not the only contentious decision in the game. There were calls for Aberdeen defender Dominic Ball to be shown a red card after he felled Josh Windass for the penalty which James Tavernier converted to open the scoring.
“I think the penalty decision was correct - Ball definitely pushes Windass over. Windass was running towards goal, just a few yards out, and ordinarily that would be a clear red card.
“However, Lassana Coulibaly was clearly going to get to the ball well before Windass, and he was in an offside position. Had Ball not pushed Windass, it is likely that the flag would have gone up for offside.
“I therefore think the referee was correct not to send Ball off for denying a clear and obvious goalscoring opportunity. However, Ball should definitely have received a yellow card - this is one of many occasions where referees appear to be much more lenient on a player who has just given away a penalty.”
• Craig Anderson is a former fully qualified referee. He is also the man behind SPL Stats on Twitter.