Why the referee denied Motherwell a penalty against Hibs

The latest edition of Ref Review looks at the booking giving to Richard Tait by match official Barry Cook during Motherwell's 2-2 draw with Hibs. The Fir Park club have appealed the yellow card for diving.

Richard Tait believed he was fouled by Marvin Bartley, right (incident in question not pictured). Picture: SNS

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It’s difficult to tell for certain, but it appears that Marvin Bartley stands on Tait’s left foot as he goes past the Hibs defender. If that was the case it should have been the penalty, but despite his excellent position, the referee deserves a degree of sympathy for this call because it happens so fast. Bartley puts his foot in before immediately drawing it back, making any contact less obvious.

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Furthermore, the way Tait goes down probably influences the official. As we can see from Picture One, he’s already dragging his right foot across the turf before Bartley stands on his left foot (if he does), indicating he was expecting the contact and already heading to ground.

Picture One

It’s a completely unnatural way to fall by the Motherwell defender and that would have played on the referee’s mind. That being said, since TV cameras seem to show Bartley making contact, he’ll probably win his appeal against the yellow card.

Hibs could have had a penalty earlier in the match when Stokes went down under the attentions of Carl McHugh. It was certainly a foul, but the only debate of whether it was inside or outside the area. The first contact is outside, which causes Stokes to clip his own heels. Personally, I thought there was a second clip from McHugh inside the area, but it’s hard to tell for certain.

Stokes clipping his own heels is probably what the referee saw, having failed to adjudge the level of contact from McHugh, and why he waved play on as opposed to booking the Hibs man for diving.

The other decision which went against the visitors saw Anthony Stokes take the lead from the penalty spot after Charles Dunne was adjudged to have fouled Martin Boyle.

Picture One

The Motherwell stopper was a bit clumsy as he tried to keep pace without fouling the winger, but ultimately there’s nothing in the replays to suggest contact. Focusing on Boyle’s legs, there’s no reaction in any direction to being clipped. He just goes to ground. There’s no conclusive angle to tell, so he won’t be cited for diving.

The awkward manner in which Dunne tried to to keep pace with Boyle would have played a part in the referee’s thinking, while his denial of two earlier penalty decisions may also have influenced his decision.

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