Making decisions in heat of moment without benefits of replays

Torbay Weekly

Referee Simon Mather will hopefully go on to a distinguished refereeing career and, with the top 'marks' of any National League official, he has already been promoted to the EFL list of officials for next season.

His name may forever prompt gritted teeth among Torquay United fans, for his decisions to disallow two headed goals by the Gulls' Kyle Cameron, in the eighth and 59th minutes, played a huge part in Sunday's NL play-off final at Bristol's Ashton Gate.

It's a referee's lot to make these big calls, and they have to make them in the heat of the moment, without the benefit of replays with slow-motion that the rest of us enjoy.

It's not actually the referees' fault, but what's been happening in English football, for some time now, is a overbearing culture of interpretation.

Where every remotely aggressive tackle seems to be a foul, with or without 'intent', and where every foul risks a booking.

Except in penalty areas, of course, where blatant grappling and shirt-pulling still goes on unpunished.

It was the height of cruel irony that, in Sunday's final, Mr Mather disallowed those goals for the sort of goalmouth 'contact' that was almost a handshake by comparison with the antics we see week-in and week-out.

Hartlepool were certainly relieved in both cases.

In fact, if there was enough 'contact' to rule out Cameron's two headers, wasn't there also enough to disallow goalkeeper Lucas Covolan's sensational stoppage-time equaliser?

Where this culture has come from, goodness knows. Did anyone ask those in the game, or most importantly the paying public, whether they wanted it?

We used to believe that our referees were the best in the world, and they still could, if they were allowed to be.

But if the Euro 2020 Finals have done anything so far, it's shown that we've fallen behind.

How refreshing it's been to see European officials clearly encouraged to wave play on more and use VAR less.

One thing's for sure, the next time they see a 'rugby tackle' unpunished in a crowded goalmouth, Torquay fans will think back to Sunday, June 20, at Ashton Gate.