Altrincham FC -v- Barnet FC
Last Saturday, I ventured south to meet up with fellow writer Steven Kedie (who has done some fine work recently on www.theupright.ie ). It was my first visit to Moss Lane. Altrincham FC were taking on high-flying Barnet FC in the Vanarama Conference.
It is highly likely that I won’t be invited back, as I clearly brought the home side no luck.
Just four minutes into the game, Tom Marshall fouled Barnet’s John Akinde in the area. The resulting penalty and straight red card had the effect of rendering Altrincham lame.
Although The Robins made a good fist of it, the game was essentially over from that point. It certainly was for Marshall, of course, but also for his teammate in midfield who had to make way for a tactical switch.
Barnet’s man-mountain centre-back pairing and powerful midfield presence ensured that a spirited attempt by Altrincham to claw their way back into the game went unrewarded.
(Nicky Clee blazing a late first-half penalty over the bar didn’t help, although I am sure it made the referee feel better to have evened things up slightly as he was taking a fair amount of abuse from the locals).
Everyone knows the rules, of course, and Altrincham manager Lee Sinnott had no qualms about the sending off, but is this punishment actually fair? What might result in a free-kick and a yellow card anywhere else on the pitch is deemed a red-card offence if said to be “denying a goal-scoring opportunity.”
However, the attacking team still get their goal-scoring opportunity—with enhanced probability from the spot-kick—and then get to continue the game with a one-man advantage.
Now, if we are talking a cynical last man rugby-tackle challenge to take out the opponent and deny their chance on goal, it is an obvious red-card offence. Slightly mistimed tackles, goalkeepers stretching, the forward “winning” the penalty, though?
There is the argument that a penalty might be missed—but then, so might the original goal-scoring opportunity. An opportunity for the sin-bin idea? Or is that just adding too many variables?
Part way through the first half, my desire to check out the culinary fayre on offer in this part of Cheshire got the better of me.
The snack bar was tucked away in one corner of the ground with a good sightline towards the pitch. However, after ten minutes without moving, a lady popped her head round a green door and informed us that there was another kiosk inside, where we would be served immediately.
Off we ran. Sadly, on arrival inside Moss Lane’s brand new community centre, there was an unfortunate shortage of pies. On the plus side, for me at least, a sausage and black pudding roll was a decent substitute.
As we turned to go back to the match, we noticed a gentleman sat alone. He was nursing a pint of beer as he stared intently at the TV screen above.
He had gone to the football to watch the rugby.
Even if he was to give the excuse that the referee had ruined his match after just five minutes, surely he has committed a red card offence?
The match ended Altrincham FC 1 – 3 Barnet FC.