What is the ref's view?

IPSWICH Town have a justifiable claim that referee Steve Bennett did them no favours in their 1-0 FA Cup fifth round defeat at Premiership Watford on Saturday.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Town have a justifiable claim that referee Steve Bennett did them no favours in their 1-0 FA Cup (sponsored by E.ON), fifth round defeat at Premiership Watford on Saturday.

But is the referee becoming too much of a scapegoat?

Are managers of professional clubs doing the game any favours by continually blaming match officials when results go against them?

Blues boss Jim Magilton is right to appeal against the red card Bennett handed out to George O'Callaghan for what was on video evidence no more than a fitful flick of the boot to try to remove the unit that is Dan Shittu after they tangled to the ground.

But for all his preening and at times over zealous reactions, Bennett is quite rightly recognised as one of Europe's top referees only coming off the Champions League list in December because of age restrictions.

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If he made a mistake I would suggest it was a genuine one - although with a huge ego needed to arbitrate matches in the multi-million pound world that is Premiership football I would very much doubt he would admit it.

At the final whistle claims were made that Dan Harding's shot had crossed the line after coming down off the underside of the bar, and that Danny Haynes was not offside when he headed in the rebound.

On further evidence neither incident shows any errors made by the referee or his assistant as the pain of an Ipswich's unfortunate exit from a major competition rebounded on the officials.

This is the world referees have to live with - and they are not supermen. In fact, none of them come even close and they all make mistakes.

And there is a good case to be made that Ipswich enjoyed a huge slice of good fortune. Matt Richards' legs were well over the goal line when he headed clear a Darius Henderson header with Lewis Price beaten.

The tirades handed out to referees by Premier League managers Sam Allardyce, Neil Warnock and Paul Jewell last week have done the game no good whatsoever.

It may have covered up a few inadequacies of their own, but it did huge harm to the game lower down the pecking order?

It is these high profile figures who set an example and lead to managers assuming they can mouth obscenities at match officials who give up their time to make it possible for youngsters to play football in youth leagues around the country.

Rookie referees are leaving the game at an alarming rate - and this is a high price to pay for the actions of top line managers seeking a scapegoat.

Ipswich have appealed against O'Callaghan's red card. He faces a three match ban, but with Town appealing he is included in the squad to face Wolves tonight.

The hearing, by an independent panel, was being heard today with O'Callaghan having to be pulled out of the squad if the red card is not rescinded.

“It was just a coming together of two bodies in a passionate FA Cup-tie and I thought the referee was a bit quick with his decision,” said Magilton.

See edblog at www.eveningstar.co.uk

What do you think of Steve Bennett's performance at Watford? E-mail starsport@eveningstar.co.

uk or write to sports department, Evening Star, 30, Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN to have your say.

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