The latest edition of Ref Review looks at two offside incidents in Kilmarnock’s victory over St Johnstone on Tuesday evening.
Willie Collum had a penalty and a red card, but there were two other incidents in the game which were more interesting from a refereeing perspective, both of which involved the offside law.
The first was Aaron Tshibola’s disallowed goal on the stroke of half-time. Lee Erwin’s shot rebounded off the post to Tshibola, who rifled a shot into the corner from the edge of the box. However, after some discussion between the officials, the goal was disallowed due to Kris Boyd being in an offside position and interfering with Saints goalkeeper Alan Mannus. This was an example of some really good communication between the officials – getting the decision correct required the input of both Collum and his assistant referee.
We can see (Image One) is that Boyd is clearly in an offside position when Tshibola makes contact with the ball. However, being in an offside position is not, in itself, an offence – it is only a problem if you touch the ball or make some action which affects an opponent. The officials in this case therefore had to decide whether Boyd was “preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision”.
The assistant referee is certainly aware that Boyd is offside, but his angle makes it difficult to know whether Mannus’ line of vision was blocked. Collum, on the other hand, has a great angle to see that Boyd is in front of Mannus (Image Two), but cannot be sure that Boyd is in an offside position.
Immediately after the ball went into the net, you could see Collum speaking to his assistant via their headsets, presumably to ask whether Boyd was in an offside position. After this consultation, the officials came to the correct conclusion that Boyd was interfering with his opponent, and the assistant raised his flag to indicate an offside.
This was a really good example of both officials seeing part of the offence, and working together to ensure that the right decision was made.
Another interesting and somewhat rare offside decision occurred near the end of the game. Killie defender Aaron Simpson cleared the ball, and Eamonn Brophy, who had started inside the St Johnstone half, chased back across the halfway line retrieve the ball.
The assistant referee raised his flag to indicate that Brophy had been in an offside position (inside the Saints half) when Simpson cleared the ball, even though he was around five yards inside his own half by the time he played it (Image Three).
The offside law was recently simplified to make it clear that free-kicks for offside should be taken from the position where the offence occurred. As mentioned above, being in an offside position is not an offence, and the offence therefore only occurred when Brophy touched the ball, by which stage he was inside his own half.
Collum therefore correctly allowed Saints to take the free-kick from inside the Killie half (see image Four), something which would not have been possible last season.
• Craig Anderson is a former fully qualified referee. He is also the man behind SPL Stats on Twitter.