Why Gary Mackay-Steven could have been awarded a penalty at Ibrox

Aberdeen's Gary Mackay-Steven is challenged by Rangers' James Tavernier. Picture: PA
Aberdeen's Gary Mackay-Steven is challenged by Rangers' James Tavernier. Picture: PA
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The latest edition or Ref Review looks at the incident involving Gary Mackay-Steven where the winger went down under the attentions of James Tavernier.

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

Picture One

Picture One

Everyone just seems to have dismissed this decision as the correct one. Which is strange, because it’s a strong case for a penalty.

The line of thinking seems to be, or at least it was on the Sky Sports coverage, that because Tavernier (after the initial pull of Mackay-Steven’s arm) was trying to get out of the way it wasn’t a foul. But as we’ve pointed out many times before, it doesn’t need to be intentional for it to be a foul. It happens all the time.

Admittedly, this is different from someone going for a slide tackle, trying to get the ball and accidentally taking the man down. Tavernier isn’t trying to interfere with Mackay-Steven taking the shot, because he knows he’ll concede a penalty and possibly receive a red card if he does. What he has done, though, is chased down Mackay-Steven from behind and impeded the Aberdeen winger’s attempt at a shot.

For those who’ve only seen the highlights, you may have not witnessed the best angle, which was shown on the Sky Sports coverage a couple of minutes after the initial replays of the incident. It shows the Aberdeen player draw his left foot back to shoot, which then comes into contact with the calf of Tavernier (Picture One).

Tavernier is fairly clumsy in the way he tries to keep pace with Mackay-Steven, grabbing him, and then he’s “careless” by getting too close to an opponent who is goal-side. Put simply, if you’re goal-side and trying to shoot, and an opponent prevents you from doing so, then I’d say that counts as a trip.

An instance where it wouldn’t count would be if GMS deliberately slowed his shooting motion in anticipation of contact from behind. I don’t think that applies here.

As for the tug, there’s not enough in that to warrant a foul. It’s contact but it doesn’t really impede Mackay-Steven all that much, seeing as he comfortably stays on his feet and still gets into position to shoot.

Had the referee blown for the tug, Tavernier would likely have walked. Had he blown for the trip it wouldn’t have been a red card as it was unintentional.

It’s easy enough to explain why Andrew Dallas didn’t give it. Though he had one of the better angles to see it, the contact is still fairly difficult to detect. He would have been concentrating on Tavernier’s dance to get out of the way, and missed the fact that he failed to actually do so.

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


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