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When the home team wins 5-0 then the ref can usually be forgotten. So it was at St Andrews on Saturday when Mr Foy of Merseyside was the arbitrator in the basement clash between Birmingham and Portsmouth. Neither manager or either set of fans had anything to say about Mr Foy’s performance as he did not appear to effect the result.

Above all Mr Foy was fair. He awarded 24 fouls in Birmingham’s favour against Portsmouth who received 12. As the possession count was almost 60-40 then one would expect that sort of count to reflect the superiority of the winners.

Mr Foy, had his assistants in the outside left position which is unusual. Look at the wear and tear on any touch line in any football ground and you will see the right wing touch lines far more worn than the left. Mr Foy, apparently on league instructions, ignored the fact Maik Taylor’s kit clashed with his own.

He also ignored his linesmen frequently, which is fine when the officials agree. However Mr Foy’s keenness to stick his arm up betrayed the linesman with the yellow flag. The players and assistant were sure that a throw to Birmingham should be awarded but the line-official swiftly had to change direction so as not to embarrass Mr Foy.

Trivial details it would seem and Mr Foy could be quite happy with his game. Mr Foy however, in common with a lot of officials has 2 sets of Laws it would seem. The one applies to incidents in the middle third and the other at the two ends of the pitch.

Sutton had Stefanovic all over him like a rash for the entire game. When the offence occurred in and around the penalty area, which it did on several occasions, nothing was given. As soon as these two combatants were safely near the half way line then the whistle went immediately. The fans cheered ironically and gratefully but they were being short changed by the official’s lack of courage.

Of the 24 fouls Birmingham were awarded only two were awarded in the final third. The penalty, Birmingham’s first in the league this year, was awarded when the score was 3-0 in the 90th minute. In the 50th minute with the game delicately poised at 2-0 an identical infringement was ignored. Luckily Blues scored from the corner, a corner that was a ‘make up call’. Whether it was a penalty or not is open to question but a corner it was not.

Mr Foy was easy on the bookings but the most serious foul in the game, that of Andy Griffin’s on Pennant was a serious omission. Griffin deliberately tried to stop Pennant with a wild kick on his knee. Foy administered a talking to which not unusually, Griffin took as licence to repeat the act. Moments later Griffin did just that. Had the caution been correctly administered in the first place the second incident would have probably not have occurred.

The last major error may well not have been his fault as Mr Uriah Rennie, the fourth official, held up the ‘injury time’ board two minutes early. The players and spectators were expecting the game to stop within two minutes of the board appearing. Mr Foy quite correctly stopped the game after 47 minutes. Now if there had been a key decision during that period……

Date:Monday January 23 2006
Time: 6:24PM

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