Last on MOTD: Half-a-dozen ghost goals

STUART Attwell was the fourth official at the Riverside yesterday. And West Brom striker Ishmael Miller’s response to that was to aim his best chance two feet outside the far post. It’s just disrespectful.

Attwell learned all about refereeing blunders the hard way at Vicarage Road last weekend, after awarding Reading a goal at Watford, after the ball crossed the line outside the posts.

Watford boss Aidy Boothroyd later said that linesman Nigel Bannister – who told Attwell to give the goal – told him it was an “optical illusion” which, if nothing else, suggests some fertile territory for Derren Brown’s next TV special.

The incident has since given all those advocates of video replays another chance to put forward their case for the camera, as if it were a cure-all for football’s refereeing errors.

And while it might have saved Attwell’s embarrassment in this case, all of those columnists are seemingly oblivious to the fact that Reading were awarded a goal which might – or might not – have crossed the line against Sunderland in the Premier League last December, when not only was video evidence inconclusive, but the BBC and Sky’s computer simulations of the incident came up with completely different verdicts.

Anyway, everything’s going to be all right for Attwell. He was rested for the Carling Cup in midweek, but was back on duty at the Riverside yesterday. And now his mum and dad have come to his defence too.

Martin and Jane Attwell both spoke to today’s Sunday Mercury about their son’s week. While Martin, himself a ref, comes across as a typical dad – bluff, reassuring, insisting everything’s fine – Jane takes a more protective line, criticising the media for their attacks on her son.

The Sunday Mercury probably don’t help matters by revealing during the course of the piece that 25-year-old Stuart still lives with his parents. And I probably haven’t helped either by repeating that fact on here.

Last night’s final match: Middlesbrough 0 West Brom 1
Commentator: Dan O’Hagan

Attwell watched from the touchline at the Riverside, fourth official’s board by his side, as Boro and West Brom contrived to miss a hatful of chances.

Afonso Alves hit the bar for Boro, while Scott Carson made great saves from Gary O’Neil and Mido. At the other end, Ryan Donk hit the post for Albion.

There was one goal, though – and it was almost as rubbish as the one that shouldn’t have counted at Vicarage Road. Jonas Olsson diverted Miller’s overhead kick straight at keeper Ross Turnbull, who got all confused and spilled the ball into the net behind him.

Miller had two clear chances to seal victory for West Brom. Anyone who remembers him from his Manchester City days can probably guess what happened, even if they haven’t seen the highlights. Miller has always had frightening pace, but his crosshairs have let him down too often. His first shot missed the far post, his second the near post.

If only he had been at Vicarage Road eight days ago, he might have had a couple of goals to his name.


1. Wigan: 2 (Capello difference: +1)
2=. Blackburn: 2 (Capello difference: 0)
2=. West Brom: 2 (Capello difference: 0)
4=. Capello: 1
4=. West Ham: 1 (Capello difference: +1)
6=. Bolton: 1
6=. Fulham: 1
6=. Hull: 1
6=. Middlesbrough: 1
6=. Sunderland: 1
11=. Gubba: 0
11=. Arsenal: 0
11=. Aston Villa: 0
11=. Chelsea: 0
11=. Everton: 0
11=. Liverpool: 0
11=. Manchester City: 0
11=. Manchester United: 0
11=. Newcastle: 0
11=. Portsmouth: 0
11=. Stoke: 0
11=. Tottenham: 0

(NB: Teams level on points will be separated by Gubba difference: the number of times a team is last on Match of the Day with Tony Gubba commentating. If they are still level, they will be separated by Capello difference: the number of times a team is last on MOTD with Fabio Capello present.)


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