Newcastle United’s miserable week continued at the City Ground as United were robbed of all three point by an abysmal refereeing performance by referee Stephen Martin. Two red cards crippled the Magpies, who from that point on had no realistic attempt of gaining a positive result despite an amazing effort from Rafa Benitez’s men.
United went into the game on the back of two disappointing results which had saw heads drop around Tyneside, however, despite this, the Magpies started well with their usual dominating attacking style, making life hard for Forest. This was clearly evident in the early possession stats which showed Newcastle to be dominating with 76% possession in the first 30 minutes. However, this was all to change in the 33rd minute, when an incident between Henri Lansbury and Jonjo Shelvey resulted in the United man’s dismissal. According to match official Stephen Martin, Shelvey was dismissed for kicking out at Lansbury, however, contact was minimal and as well as this the Forest Number 10 appeared to kick at the back of the legs of Jonjo Shelvey. Furthermore, Lansbury continued to roll around on the floor in a way which has become all too familiar to football fans in recent years, aiding in the red card given to Shelvey in a horrendous display of sportsmanship. No further action was taken by Martin regarding Lansbury provoking uproar from the stands.
This led to the first of Forest’s two penalties in which Nicholas Bendtner stepped up before seeing his penalty saved by returning United keeper, Karl Darlow, perhaps seeing justice served. Despite the disadvantage in men, United rallied to gain the lead through Matt Ritchie. The United number 11 stated he was unhappy with his recent performances, however, he did not let himself down with a powerful strike past Stojkovic into the Forest net. A great achievement from United despite Forest having the man advantage. things only went downhill from there though. On the stroke of half-time, Forest were awarded another penalty with Dummett bringing down Lansbury again. This resulted in another red card as Dummett was adjudged to be the last man. I did not fell this was a penalty with Dummett hardly touching Lansbury as the Forest No 10 fell to the ground in quite spectacular fashion. Despite this, hero of the night, Karl Darlow stepped up to save Lansbury’s effort, provoking renditions of an edited Spandau Ballet number from those in the away end.
Somehow, United went in at half time leading despite having two less men than those in red. However, this wasn’t to last with United giving away a sloppy goal which Bendtner forced in despite the best efforts of Darlow to keep it out. United went on to put on a valiant display until the 85th minute when a ball was whipped in by Lansbury leaving Jamal Lascelles powerless to prevent the ball going into the United net. The Magpies were unable to find a way back into the game, the final score being 2-1, giving Rafa Benitez’s side their third defeat in 6 days.
In summary, Newcastle can count themselves unlucky not get anything from the game with Forest failing to really impress throughout, if the referee was capable of handling the magnitude of the occasion then perhaps the result could have been different. However, one thing we have learnt whilst in the Championship is that quite simply the league is facing a crisis due to the standard of officials which is quite simply not up to par with the status of the league. Too many times Newcastle and not their opposition have been robbed due to quite simply ridiculous decisions from the officials and this time it appears to have gone too far. A potentially fantastic clash between the league’s top goalscorers was ruined by referee Stephen Martin and his atrocious decisions given against Newcastle tonight, handing a poor Forest team the three points and in turn maybe affecting the race for the title. This no doubt for me brings the game into disrepute and tonight quite simply it has reached it’s boiling point and is something that both the Football League and the FA needs to look into. This leaves Newcastle in a perilous position and now can be caught by Brighton in what will be a difficult night for Benitez, the fans and the team to take.
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