Despite feeling frustrated by the general lethargy of our display (understandable when you consider it was our fourth game in nine days) and our inability to get the win when I’d built my hopes up on the fact that we would well before the game, the main thing ticking me off - even the day after the match - was the performance of referee Scott Oldham.
We’ve had some terrible refs this season - one of which was Lee Probert, a Premier League official - but in my opinion Oldham’s performance was the worst of the lot.
He made a ridiculous amount of simple errors that even I’d be ashamed of, and I’m only qualified to referee up to Sunday league. Oldham let some strange fouls go unpunished, refused to book anyone when things were getting slightly out of control, disallowed what appeared to be a perfectly fine goal after what he judged was a foul on the goalkeeper, gave a yellow card for a tackle on Benji Kimpioka which should have seen red, and was booed off the pitch at the end of both halves after the crowd audibly showed their frustration at what was undoubtedly a terrible performance from the man in the middle.
To say he was inconsistent would be an understatement.
Leadbitter walks off at HT, patiently attempting to explain the laws of the game to Scott Oldham. Mr Oldham just focusing on putting one foot in front of the other without falling over. #safc— James Hunter (@JHunterChron) April 9, 2019
I try to be objective when forming opinions on officials but Oldham made it difficult for anyone to defend him last night. He tried to appear in control without having any handle on the game.
For me, refs need to be assertive but also let the game flow. If a foul is worthy of a caution - especially early in the game - then you should discipline the player and set the tone for the rest of the match. Oldham, for whatever reason, chose not to impose any authority on the game, nor was he consistent in his decision-making.
Oldham was picked out earlier this year by then-Notts County manager Kevin Nolan in his post-match comments for another inept performance in charge of a League Two game - and whilst I’m not exactly a huge fan of Nolan, I can sympathise with his comments on that occasion having suffered from watching Oldham officiate my own team last night.
Nolan’s comments were much the same as my own - “I don’t want to keep harping on about referees but he simply wasn’t good enough to referee this game.”
And that was at a level below this one - so quite why he was in charge of a game in front of almost 30,000 spectators at Sunderland is completely beyond me.
I don’t think ultimately he made a huge difference to the end result - as I said earlier I thought the disallowed goal was a harsh decision as the foul was soft at best - but it’s frustrating when you come away from a game and you’re not talking about the fact we’ve moved in to second but are instead talking about the quality of the referee’s performance.
Neil Warnock ranted and raved about the standard of the coaching for officials in this country last week and whilst he was perhaps a little harsh, much of what he had to say rang true. I could count on a few fingers how many decent refs we’ve had this season at a push.
Just not good enough - end of.