RUNNING MONKEY enjoys a lesson in refereeing

As expected it was a good crowd for the game today, as the Blades' end was sold out, and I witnessed Blades fans buying tickets for the home stands.

After a poor start to the day weather-wise, it was in bright sunshine that the game started but it was a bit chilly to say the least. Kicking the right way again we started the game well and took it to them with a Collins header setting up Noble for a volley that won us a corner but it was cleared easily. Sam was caught in possession in our box but a smart turn helped him clear the danger under pressure.

We were pressing them back and won three corners in succession but could not break them down. I was about to set up a chant 'Boyeson is a Poolie', as he was giving us so many free kicks, till Ken pointed out free kicks, yes, but no bookings, despite them kicking us off the park. Noble looked sharp and broke free but it was a poor shot to end his effort.

Horwood was having a good game but we lacked any real threat from the pressure we put on them, and the amount of ball we were getting. Twenty-one minutes on the clock and the Blades had their first real chance but shot over the bar. Sweeney went close with a header but the ball was scrambled clear. "On the break Hartley was booked for pulling his man off balance as he forgot only the visitors are allowed to carry out that manoeuvre."

A touch of genius from young Luke James, back in action after his problem with growing pains, who chased back into our box and, showing good anticipation, cut out a threat with a deft back heel that left the attacker beat all ends up. Hartley played a poor ball that allowed an attacker a free run but he made amends in the next attack as he got his foot in fend off a an attack that looked dangerous.

It was becoming a bad-tempered game, and a scything tackle took out Aussie but no card from Boyeson. Someone started another chant about the ref being a fat person but I did not join in. Monky got flattened and it was obvious that, when at Hartlepool, big time Charlies like Boyeson allow big clubs to get away with a lot of what can only be called disreputable behaviour. Blocking players, even wrestling them to the ground, is all-acceptable at a Boyeson bash. No, I am not exaggerating - running into players and off-the-ball stuff was commonplace today, so much so that when our manager, that nice Mr Cooper challenged the fourth official, Mr Boyeson had to go over and have a quiet word.

Mr Boyeson did find his card after Noble was almost put into the stand. Then to even things up across the pitch he booked Monky for an offence that he had been letting go all day. No 28 Steve Quinn should have been booked when he fell to the ground claiming Aussie had slapped his face. Don’t you just hate cheats. The consensus at half time was we were as good as them and had more of the ball in the half.

Sweeney latched onto a ball and ran down the line but his great cross was wasted as no one managed to get up in time to receive it. Sweeney, again running in the middle, laid a ball on for Monky, who crossed it back in, and Sweeney was just beaten to the header.

We had learned the lesson of the first half that old sage Mr Clough once said: “there are no goal posts up in the air”, or words to that effect. We were playing some good stuff in patches, which only angered the visitors.

Horwood sent in a good cross that beat the keeper and the lively James won the ball, but could only win a corner, which was cleared. On the break Hartley was booked for pulling his man off balance as he forgot only the visitors are allowed to carry out that manoeuvre.

It was about this time that there was a death of a visiting player, who crumpled and, while feigning death, was appealing for a penalty as he was falling. A good opportunity you might say for Mr Boyeson to get involved, but he was just not interested. Another foul on Monky saw him square up to the offender, but as he was two foot taller than the Blades player, it was no contest. Mr Boyeson did get involved but only to give them a warning.

A run and cross from Lidds saw Monky with a good chance, but his volley was collected by the keeper. A shot at the other end had Ned scrambling as they stepped up their game. Noble had the best effort of the game, stretching the keeper who dived high in the top corner to beat a ball away. Hartley had a great effort blocked on the line as Boyeson and Co were riding their luck.

Young James sent a lovely head in for Noble to chase through, but he was bundled off the ball. Ned had to dive into a melee of flying boots to smother a chance for the Blades. Brownie came on and his first touch was a header at the keeper. Another fluffed kick out from Ned almost gifted the Blades a goal as the ball dropped for an attacker, leaving Sam and Hartley spectators.

The next attack saw Sam challenge for a ball and once again the ring-a-rosie action was used and the lino put his flag up, as Boyeson had dozed off by now. The roar of disapproval woke him up in time to give the visitors a very debatable penalty. It was harsh, but seeing as we were playing the elite of the division, and remembering who was in charge, there was no other outcome. Initially Boyeson ignored the challenge as he had been letting them go all day but the lino gave it and the kick duly sent Ned the wrong way.

Boydie came on for Luke, and like Brownie, almost scored with a chip shot that had the keeper struggling. I did not see the incident in which Hartley was sent off once again by Mr Boyeson, but he was not happy, and said something to the visitors’ bench as he was escorted off.

We had lost, undeservedly so in my opinion, but considering we were playing one of the top teams, we held our own and were unlucky to fall to a penalty like that after a good display.

We still need a striker or at least get some good service to James and Noble while we have them. Murray once again was outstanding and Hartley was named man-of-the-match just after he went off and before the end of play, which again was a good choice as he was immense again today. Once again, as the game ended, the chant about the fat person could be heard all around the ground, this time with the added extra banker verse. Questions have to be asked - do these fast-tracked referees get hauled around the country to officiate for the big clubs? I think it is inappropriate for the ref to be shaking hands with these players from the elite teams during the game, who spend the time to walk around the pitch to do so while they are being taken off in a substitution. Or am I just an old cynic?