Last night’s Hyundai A League game between the Perth Glory and the Wellington Phoenix which saw fifth play sixth, as both teams vied to secure a finals berth, (top 6 do so) was officiated by New South Wales referee Ryan Shepheard.
There is no doubt that this referee has talent, as we have witnessed in the Youth League games that he has officiated, but was he the right man for such a pressure game? The answer is quite clearly no.
Both coaches have been critical as far as they can venture without being censured by the FFA who do not like to have their officials analysed. The players, who at whatever level you play want consistency, became frustrated by his inconsistent stopping of play and admit that at times their frustration understandably boiled over.
His booking of Manny Muscat twice and not sending the Wellington defender from the field baffled many around the ground. Then word filtered through that the first yellow card had been withdrawn at half time and issued to Tim Brown instead, yet no one thought to advise the media or the television broadcaster Fox Sports. This is in itself rare, but when all heard that Tim Brown had been booked and not Vince Lia who was involved in the challenge that Muscat had been booked for, there were more furrowed brows.
He then bottled it when faced with whether he should issue returning former Perth Glory striker Eugene Dadi for a-studs-up challenge on Jacob Burns. This decision showed to most in the crowd and on the pitch that he had lost control.
As Perth Glory coach Dave Mitchell stated, “His decisions did not effect the outcome of the game, although they were ‘funny.’”
One person who had an excellent night was referees assistant Matthew Cheeseman. Fox Sports replays showed that every single offside call that he made, no matter how marginal was 100% correct. This young man is without doubt one of the best referees in the WA State League, yet the FFA does not promote him. Why not?
We have been told that Western Australian referees cost to much to fly around Australia, but don’t they cost similar to that of flying in East coast referees to Perth?
We are saying here that a more experienced referee should have handled such a crucial match for both teams and they would have had a stronger grip on controlling the passion on the park. We are also asking that if a referees assistant such as Cheeseman can do such an exemplary job as a referees assistant, when are the FFA going to reward such talent and give him a match to officiate