‘Game has been ruined’: Top ref faces axe as TWO penalty errors leave A-League in ‘disbelief’
FIFA-badged referee Shaun Evans could be dumped from A-League duties after a Football Australia review found he twice made wrong decisions regarding penalties in Melbourne City’s controversial 3-2 win over the Central Coast Mariners.
The Mariners were twice on the wrong end of Evans upholding his initial decisions after VAR consultations that ultimately cost them a result against City at AAMI Park.
Evans’ first blunder came in first-half stoppage time when City was awarded a penalty for a Kye Rowles foul on Marco Tilio despite the Mariners defender initially making contact outside the box.
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Evans initially pointed to the spot and despite being called to review the foul by the VAR, he went on to uphold the decision, leading to City striker Jamie Maclaren scoring from the resulting spot kick.
A review of the incident from FA’s refereeing department found that while Evans awarded the penalty for secondary contact in the penalty area “the secondary contact was negligible contact and therefore the correct restart (a City free-kick) should be for the offence committed outside the penalty area”.
The controversy didn’t stop there, as the Mariners’ Lewis Miller was clipped by City’s Mathew Leckie inside the penalty box in the 87th minute.
After another lengthy VAR review and Miller being forced off in the arms of trainers, Evans again upheld his decision – this time not to award a penalty – ultimately leading to City coming away with a 3-2 win.
However, FA’s review found that Leckie fouled Miller – who after the match was on crutches – by “stepping on his foot … hence a penalty should be awarded for this type of contact”.
A FA spokesman could not “confirm or deny” whether Evans would pay for his mistake by being at least temporarily axed from A-League matches.
Evans’ rulings left players and coaches in “disbelief” and shaking their heads, while Australian Professional League CEO Danny Townsend said he would be “seeking answers”.
Central Coast coach Nick Montgomery could be seen saying the officials should be “ashamed” on the sidelines and continued to voice his displeasure post-match.
“Disbelief, just again really disappointed for the boys,” Montgomery said.
“For opposition players to come off the park and just shake their head and say ‘I don’t know how we got away with that one’. I’ve never really had that in my career.
“So, yeah, I think we need explanation on the decisions made.
“Melbourne City’s first penalty is outside the box and that’s a fact. First contact is outside the box and when questioned about it, the feedback I got from the officials was it wasn’t the first contact, it was the second contact,
“I don’t know when the rules change but first contact as the player goes down, if he falls in the box and there’s another contact, it’s not the second contact unless I’ve missed a new rule change. I think everyone can see that wasn’t a penalty.
“The final incident, I probably don’t need to say much about it. You only have to look at social media and the text messages I’ve had from good people within football here and they’re all just in disbelief.
“Lewis Miller’s icing a gash on top of his foot and again I don’t know how you can’t see that live. The players’ reaction from Melbourne City knew it was a penalty, they know they’ve given the penalty away, you see his reaction and then we have to take the player off because he’s got a gash on top of his foot and apparently there’s no contact.
“I think it’s sad for the game. I think the game has been ruined tonight. I think it’s a spectacle that Australian football didn’t need. There is a lot of positives here, it’s been a transition with everything that’s gone on, but nights like tonight really set the competition back and it’s sad for football.“
When asked about the decisions that went in his side’s favour, City boss Patrick Kisnorbo took a diplomatic approach to the night’s events.
“For me the VAR or the refs are there to make a decision and that’s the decision that they made,” Kisnorbo said.
“Where I saw it but I didn’t see the actual … because the ball was blocking the foot, so I didn’t see the contact, but obviously Central Coast would say maybe it is a penalty,
“But to be honest with you, where I saw it, I didn’t see it greatly and end of the day, the VAR’s there to do their job and they said it wasn’t a pen so we move on.”