The latest edition of Ref Review looks at the penalty awarded to Hibs in Saturday’s Betfred Cup semi-final against Celtic.
It’s not a penalty. Martin Boyle gets to the ball first, but he’s just trying to push it past the Celtic player. The angle from behind the goal shows he’s not wildly changing his direction. As he tries to knock it past Dedryck Boyata, the Celtic defender got his toe to the ball, sending it flying away towards the corner flag. The GIF included in this article shows that.
Even though it’s not a foul, it didn’t merit the utter apoplexy from some of Scottish football’s pundits. You do need to see numerous replays to find out exactly what happened, so the officials should be cut some slack. And if Boyata doesn’t make contact with the ball after Boyle plays it then it would have been a strong case for a penalty, as he runs over and takes out the Hibs player.
Referee Kevin Clancy didn’t seem to want to give it, so we can assume that assistant did. As we can see from Picture One, Clancy is partially unsighted by Kieran Tierney running across his line of sight.
The assistant, Frank Connor, probably saw Boyle’s touch on the ball, but failed to notice Boyata getting there afterwards. It is an unusual incident in that both players race towards a rolling ball and both get a touch. It’s a clumsy challenge from Boyata and the contact on the ball isn’t immediately obvious.
Some have pointed to the change of direction from the football, which they insist should have led the linesman to realise Boyata had made contact with it. While this can definitely help a referee’s decision, there are loads of reasons why it could go that way and still have been a foul. The forward could knock it that way to avoid the challenge, or the defender could come through the player to play the ball in that direction. Neither applied this time, but basing your opinion solely on where the ball went isn’t the right way to officiate.
• Craig Anderson is a former fully qualified referee. He is also the man behind SPL Stats on Twitter.