Smith takes Boro visit - Referee
Tuesday, 2nd Aug 2022 13:42 by Clive Whittingham
One of the EFL’s up and coming referees, Josh Smith, has his first QPR game of the season on Saturday as the R’s open at home against Middlesbrough.
Referee: >>> Josh Smith (Lincolnshire), at 28 Smith is one of the youngest referees on the EFL circuit.
Assistants >>> Shaun Hudson (Tyne and Wear) and Akil Howson (Leicester)
Fourth official: >>> Tom Nield (West Yorks)
A chunky eight minutes of stoppage time only enough for sub subs Cybulksi to meet a free kick at the back post but head down into the ground allowing Westwood to comfortably save. Sam Field was booked for a seventh match in a row, and thirteenth time in 23 appearances this season, now perilously close to a three-match ban. Designated driver Tom Lawrence exemplified his value as captain by getting himself sent off, fouling Charlie Austin in the final seconds while already on a yellow card to earn himself a nice rest for the remaining dead rubbers – Reading’s remarkable comeback against Swansea up the M4 sealing Derby’s fate.
Subs not used: Ball, Gray, Adomah, Mahoney
Goals: Amos 89 (assisted Dykes)
Bookings: Dozzell 59 (foul), Field 72 (foul)
Derby: Allsop 7; Byrne 6, Davies 7, Cashin 6, Buchanan 7 (Cybulksi 85, -); Bielik 6 (Morrison 64, 6), Thompson 6; Ebiowei 8, Lawrence 5, Knight 6 (Sibley 75, 6); Plange 6
Red Cards: Lawrence 90+8 (two yellows)
Bookings: Lawrence 56 (foul), Lawrence 90+8 (foul)
Referee – Josh Smith (Lincs) 6 Rooney was absolutely fuming for most of the last half hour, engaged in the sort of constant berating of a fourth official that’s tolerated for reasons that are beyond me, even if it is Chuckles Woolmer on the receiving end. I’m not reeeeeeally sure why. Smith is an inexperienced referee, and that shows sometimes when he allows himself to be conned into awarding a free kick by an obvious dive, or issuing a card to assert authority when a little word on the run would suffice. But was he that bad here? Did he get that much wrong? Not for me.
A goal was absolutely, definitely coming, though when it did arrive it was highly preventable. Marshall, at fault for the winner at Blackburn and Cardiff’s equaliser last week, kept up his sad recent goal-a-game average by allowing the tamest of speculative efforts from Cameron Jerome to squeeze between his gloves and over the line from long range. From debating whether Seny Dieng would regain his place post AFCON, to now wondering whether he might be able to play on one leg. QPR fully justified in wondering why Jordan Clark’s basketball-style control in the build up – hand and arm raised high above his head and batting his miscontrol back down to himself – was waved as play-on, but really had everything going for them to make that as irrelevant as the lino’s earlier faux pas. Before half time a ball fell to the impressive Clark in a great spot in front of goal and only a block first by his own man, and then secondly, brilliantly and bravely, by Jimmy Dunne prevented that being two nil there and then.
Jeff Hendrick’s dramatic penalty appeal as we entered first half stoppage time received the contempt it deserved from referee Josh Smith, but it was at least an example of a QPR midfielder getting up in support of, and running beyond, the strikers. Once again here the problem felt like Rangers were too deep, midfield sitting right on top of the defence, and unable to get out and play football higher up the field in dangerous areas. Despite Johansen and Hendrick rarely crossing the halfway line, and again really feeling like they were trying to do the same job a lot of the time, Sam Field still seemed overworked as the actual sitting, defensive midfielder. The worst of both worlds. Certainly when you compare them to the purposeful, attack-minded central three in the Luton team it was night and day, chalk and cheese, and as the eye-rolling sideways and backwards passing started to once again manifest at 1-0 down with time ticking down to half time, so the away end really started to turn and get a bit aggy with players and manager for the first time this season. Frustration starting to manifest, Ilias Chair was perhaps fortunate to only see yellow for swinging out at Tom Lockyer as the half time whistle went – his attempt to disappear down the tunnel pretty transparent, Smith’s yellow card perhaps a little generous.
The game was level by the time he came on. Hendrick fed a ball into Gray on the corner of the penalty area, and ran beyond him to take defenders away and provide an option in the box. We do this so seldom at the moment it’s heartbreaking, and the effect it can have was shown here. Now isolated with Gray, home skipper Kal Naismith lunged in foolishly once allowing himself to be turned and then - off balance and panicking - chucked himself into an absolute fool’s errand for the most obvious penalty you’ll ever see. Gray hasn’t scored one of these outside a shoot-out for five years, since he was playing for Burnley, but you’d never know that from the two step run up and faultless finish into the top corner.
The winning goal came from a corner - Naismith, again, wild and rash in hacking a horrible clearance high and mightily wide behind his own goal. On the long list of QPR issues in recent weeks had been finding a taker for these – only David Marshall is yet to have a go, and I’d back him to do a better job than Yoann Barbet. Barbet might be a better goalkeeper as well. With the French centre back safely back on the near post, Chris Willock decided to have a go – a winger, crossing a deadball, burn the fucking witch. The delivery was a horror from the moment it left his boot – the sort of devilish, nasty, whipped ball that goalkeepers see coming towards them in nightmares that jerk them awake as a sweaty mess at three in the morning. You couldn’t see a lot from where we were standing, but the arc and trajectory on this brought it right towards us, and three of the faithful who travel with me and improve my life through their mere existence said “it’s in” in unison. It was in immediately, it was in all the way, it was in from the moment he kicked it. It was in. It was written. From a crowd at the near post the ball skimmed off Rob Dickie’s shoulder and landed satisfyingly in the corner of the net nearest to us. Goalkeeper Shea, blocked into his net by an obviously offside Luke Amos, couldn’t do a thing about it. The linesman’s failure to spot this only adds comedy to the glorious, euphoria of it all. If anything, I wish he’d been further offside. Behind the goal, amidst the collapse of society, a full size, old school tin rubbish bin was launched into the air like a Cold war Soviet spacecraft. Dickie’s fifth of the season, but first in 33 games going back to late August. Hook it to my veins. Just when you’re out, they drag you back in again. These are the moments, these are the moments, we missed so dearly in lockdown. You simply have to be there.
Luton: Shea 5; Bree 7, Burke 6, Lockyer 6, Naismith 4, Bell 6; Mpanzu 7 (Lansbury 15, 6), Clark 7 (Snodgrass 81, -), Campbell 7; Jerome 7 (Cornick 74, 5), Adebayo 6
Subs not used: Potts, Berry, Isted, Onyedinma
Goals: Jerome 37 (assisted Campbell)
QPR: Marshall 4; Odubajo 7, Dickie 6, Dunne 7, Barbet 6, Wallace 6; Field 7, Johansen 6, Hendrick 5 (Amos 74, 7); Chair 5 (Austin 60, 6), Gray 7 (Willock 78, 7)
Subs not used: McCallum, Dozzell, Adomah, Mahoney
Goals: Gray 55 (penalty won Gray), Dickie 83 (assisted Willock)
Bookings: Chair 45 +6 (unsporting), Amos 87 (foul), Wallace 90+5 (time wasting)
Referee – Josh Smith (Lincolnshire) 5 Much like Blackpool away I came away reasonably impressed with his overall game management and how he handled a potentially difficult game, but there were too many incorrect decisions for a high mark. Luton’s first goal should be disallowed for a hand ball, our winning goal is pretty obviously offside with Luke Amos blocking the goalkeeper – as at Bloomfield Road, referee let down by a poor linesman call there. I thought he got the Ilias Chair incident about right, though plenty of referees would have sent him off there and the QPR man was dumb for giving the referee a decision to make when the half time whistle had already gone.
Perception – Rangers cannot defend. On nine occasions already this season Mark Warburton’s side has required two goals just to get a point. They’ve conceded goals in the last minute of games five times in ten fixtures. They’re light in the centre of midfield and with the wing backs trying to compensate for that by joining the press it’s easy to get in at an exposed back three, behind which Seny Dieng is rather struggling for form. It can all feel a little bit seat-of-your-pants at times and that was certainly the case here where Blackpool had an early goal controversially disallowed (Perception: Madine is offside. Reality: the ball was over the line anyway so it should have counted, though if he wasn’t such a greedy fucker the error by young referee Josh Smith and linesman Akil Howson would have been irrelevant) and went dangerously close on numerous other occasions. Rob Dickie’s heroic block denied Dougall on ten minutes as another Bowler set piece dropped loose, eight minutes after that Gabriel turned back inside Odubajo in the area tight to the byline and was wrestled to the ground for a half decent penalty shout. It felt like the R’s were cashing in a few refereeing chips accumulated over the prior few weeks of controversies against us.
Reality – Rangers had kept four clean sheets in eight games prior to this one. Theirs is still the eighth leakiest defence in the Championship, but that’s progress from a few weeks ago when it was the worst bar Peterborough. Rob Dickie was commanding and assured again, Jimmy Dunne a tower of strength under a barrage of wind-assisted high balls bar one near mix up with Dieng over a dodgy back pass. For all Pool’s impressive play, for all QPR’s apparent failings, for all the harum-scarum (Dieng flapped around in the wind all afternoon but saved well at his near post as Expiteta threatened to bundle home from a corner, former Kings Lynn prospect Sonny Carey struck the outside of the post late on) the home team did only score here off the sort of basic individual error that has become too commonplace this season. Yoann Barbet, who was erratic at Cardiff during the week, trying to be too clever by half under a routine cross when the conditions called for a safety-first approach, allowed Gabriel in on Dieng and he rather needlessly thrust out an arm to fell the advancing attacker. Gabriel had already toed the ball well wide of the goal, hence a yellow card, but that meant he didn’t need to make the challenge at all. Barbet’s fault in the main though and, as I’ve apparently got as much chance of saving a penalty for QPR as Dieng has, Madine was able to make it 1-1.
Blackpool: Grimshaw 6; Gabriel 8, Expiteta 7, Husband 6, James 6; Bowler 8 (Mitchell 79, 6), Wintle 7, Dougall 7, Dale 6 (Carey 73, 6); Anderson 8, Madine 6
Subs Not Used: Connolly, Yates, Casey, Gretarsson, Moore
Goals: Madine 54 (penalty won Gabriel)
Bookings: Madine 36 (foul), Anderson 60 (foul)
QPR: Dieng 5; Adomah 5, Dickie 7, Dunne 7, Barbet 5, Odubajo 5 (Kakay 46, 6); Dozzell 6, Amos 5 (Ball 73, 6), Chair 7; Willock 7 (Austin 73, 5), Dykes 5
Subs not used: Archer, Field, Duke-Mckenna, Thomas
Goals: Willock 26 (assisted Chair)
Bookings: Odubajo 33 (foul), Adomah 50 (foul), Dieng 53 (foul), Ball 82 (foul), Dunne 90+5 (foul)
Referee – Josh Smith 5 Very difficult game to referee, and the EFL’s youngest middle man copped plenty from an enthusiastic home crowd. The Dougall/Madine disallowed goal is wrong, it’s a big decision which has cost Blackpool the match, so the mark is never going to be particularly high. Of the other big decisions: I’d have wanted the Odubajo/Gabriel penalty appeal in the first half but I can maybe see why it was waved away; their penalty they did get, along with the yellow rather than the red, is fair enough; most of the bookings were just, though Odubajo can perhaps count himself slightly fortunate it was only a yellow; Dougall lucky not to have seen yellow for persistent and ongoing haranguing of the match officials. Tough task for the referee, but it certainly felt like QPR got the rub of plenty of green here.
Josh Smith was promoted onto the Football League list for the 2019/20 season aged 26, despite an operation to pin a regularly dislocated shoulder the season before. The former Bourne Grammar School student is one of the EFL’s youngest officials and he began life at this level with 26 appointments, 81 yellows and six reds, spread across Leagues One and Two and concluding with a League Two play-off semi-final between Colchester and Exeter.
His first Championship appointment, in October 2020, was quite a thing – eight yellows and a red in Huddersfield’s 2-1 home defeat against Preston. That was part of a 54 yellows and two reds from 19 games season in 2020/21 which included five Championship games.
He was very busy this season with 37 appointments bringing 143 yellows and five reds, led by seven yellows and a red at Blackburn’s recent 2-0 home defeat to Forest. His appointment for the Welsh derby between Cardiff and Swansea suggests he’s a fast rising name to watch and he began this season on Monday night with a televised match between Watford and Sheff Utd in which he showed seven yellows and rarely appeared in complete control of.
His two Middlesbrough appointments to date brought a surprise 2-0 home loss against Birmingham last season, and a 2-0 victory over eventually-promoted Nottingham Forest.
Pictures – Action Images
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