Crewe 1-1 Oxford. There’s no point in arguing with the referee because he’ll never change his mind. Unfortunately not the case today. Some absolutely horrendous officiating from Geoff Eltringham and his three assistants ruined what was potentially a really good game of football today.
Oxford came with the object of bullying us and it’s fair enough, it’s how teams have got wins against us in the past. As long as the referee had made sure it was a fair contest we’d have got on with it (and probably won). Eltringham, however, had mis-read ‘football’ for ‘rugby’, or perhaps had just lost his yellow card in the first half.
Within the first 20 minutes of the match there should have been at least two bookings as Donaldson was more than clattered to the floor on at least three occassions whilst Miller and Grant just got a couple of kickings. How it took over half an hour, and several bookable offences, for the referee to finally pull out his yellow card is unknown. It took another 50 minutes and a 20 man scrap before he was tempted to book a second player!
The game was, from a discipline point of view, a shambles. Even we could have found ourselves down to ten men towards the end of the match as tempers flared.
It’s a shame as it all started pretty brightly too. Carrying on from the last few weeks, a solid Alex side went ahead through a brilliant David Artell header via a corner seven minutes before half time. Well deserved and, having limited Oxford to precisely zero, chances things were looking good for the second half.
To give credit to Oxford they played their part. Aside from the rough and tumble, they were a decent outfit; it’s pleasing to know that we aren’t the most frustrating when it comes to tippy-tappy football on the edge of our own box. For 90% of possession they had throughout the game they rarely got in touching distance of the final third, instead opting for a string of 15-20 passes in their own half.
Their eventual equaliser came through a counter attack from a Crewe corner. We somehow left ourselves short at the back and when Bell (possibly?) lost out in the middle of the field it left a three on two situation. Blanchett did well to cover the initial threat but Oxford’s persistence paid off, Constable stabbing home a rebound from a Rhys Taylor save.
From there, there was definitely another goal in us. Murphy squandered two good chances whilst Grant, Miller and Donaldson clearly don’t trust themselves to take a shot on sight of goal.
Donaldson and Miller eventually did combine to put us in the lead. When Donaldson was put through his initial shot was saved eventually bundled in by Miller. So everyone celebrated. Linesman runs towards half way line. Referee gives goal. Oxford players cry offside. At this point every single Oxford player has surrounded the linesman. After a few minutes kerfuffle the referee whistles for a free kick to Oxford.
Now, the decision ultimately was probably the correct one. Miller looked offside. But how can two officials base a decision purely on the views of the opposition players? It’s unbelievable.
If the referee hadn’t lost the game due to his ineptitude prior to then, he certainly had no control for the last 10 minutes. A mass brawl or two later two Oxford players and David Artell were booked. A few minutes after that the rather irritable James Constable was given his overdue second yellow. All, sadly, vain attempts by the referee to take control of the match again.
We weren’t composed enough to take advantage of the 10 minutes against ten men and 1-1 is most certainly two points lost. The referee made it hard today but we had the chances and didn’t put them away. Hopefully it’s not a theme for the rest of the season as these 1-1 draws are becoming all too familiar.
I’m hopeful though. Things aren’t too shabby right now and ‘things can only get better’. We were never going to hit the ground running this season but things are a hell of a lot brighter than they were two months ago. As we progress we’ll find the goals and we’ll grow as team where 2 or 3 goals a game becomes the norm.
Keep believing and stay behind the team!