Why the referee failed to award a penalty against Celtic

Today's second edition of Ref Review looks at Andrew Dallas' decision not to award Partick Thistle a late penalty in their 1-0 defeat to Celtic.

Nir Bitton clashes with Miles Storey in the penalty box. Picture: SNS
Nir Bitton clashes with Miles Storey in the penalty box. Picture: SNS

Watching it live on TV, initially this looked like two players running side by side and Nir Bitton simply being stronger than Miles Storey - with the Thistle player then exaggerating the contact. However, on second viewing there were clearly two points of contact, and it should have been a penalty.

After their upper bodies initially come into contact with each other, Bitton kicks the back of Storey’s right leg with his boot, just above the ankle. It’s a clumsy, panicked challenge from Bitton who was aware of Storey’s presence, but didn’t know the attacker was so close as to nip in front of him as he played it away from the diving Craig Gordon.

Picture One

As the kick occurs, Bitton extends out his left hand, which had been on Storey’s back, pushing the already off-balance player even further and causing the emphatic tumble which the referee saw.

From his angle of sight (picture one), Dallas probably missed the kick on the back of Storey’s ankle. The attacker was side-on to the referee, who was on the player’s left, so it’s likely his body blocked Dallas’ view of his right leg. The way Storey went down, even though it was completely natural, definitely worked against the striker as well.

If it was a shove and a shove alone, such a fall would have been looked upon as Storey exaggerating the contact to bring it to the referee’s attention. However, he was put off balance by two separate fouls, and it seems a little churlish to suggest (as some have) that the fall was a piece of theatrics. He was already going to ground when Bitton extended out his push, which sent him flying.

That does not mean Dallas gets a free pass on this one just because he couldn’t see it. As picture one shows, Dallas definitely sees the push and, regardless of how the striker went to ground, it should still have been enough for a penalty.

Picture One

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