Trevor Kettle, Trevor Leake, Iain Williamson. Now, you can add Tim Robinson’s name to the list of referees who have put in a performance so bad against Rotherham that it affected the outcome of the game.
Over the years, the stories from Rotherham’s games with Sheffield Wednesday have been dominated by the players. Joe McBride, Richie Barker, Kieren Lee, Fernando Forestieri are all in the history books as people who have decided matches between the two teams. This time it was Robinson who will be remembered when this game is talked about in years to come.
The West Sussex official was was the main talking point of this South Yorkshire derby and that was before his two major decisions which decided the outcome.
He was pedantic, whistle-happy and picky, which ruined the flow of the game and had both sets of supporters tearing their hair out. This is not a question of sour grapes, Wednesday fans were more exasperated with Robinson’s performance than anyone sat in Leppings Lane. In fact, over the course of 90 minutes probably more decisions went against Wednesday, it was just two major ones went against Rotherham and it cost them dearly.
Both of them have since proved to be wrong.
The decision to rule out Tom Adeyemi’s header on the stroke of half-time is the most bamboozling. Both live and on replays it is impossible to see an obvious offence, either by Adeyemi or anyone else. In fact, with Richard Wood taking a tumble, there was more likely an offence committed by a Wednesday defender. Robinson was the only person who saw a foul. Did he decide before the free-kick was taken that he was going to blow, as sometimes happens with referees? Or was it just a case that he saw something that no one else did? Either way he got it wrong.
Who’s to say how the game would have panned out if Adeyemi’s goal had rightly stood, but given the way the Millers defended and the way Wednesday attacked, the hosts would have had a job to score two goals.
Although they had more defending to do, Rotherham were resolute and Lewis Price only had routine saves to make. Wednesday had not created any clear-cut chances and the stop-start nature of the game had ruined any chance of them building a sustained period of pressure.
But such was the manner of Robinson’s performance throughout the game, a contentious decision was always on the cards. And unfortunately for Rotherham it came deep into injury time and it gave Wednesday the opportunity they could not fashion in open play.
A long ball was flicked on by the impressive Steven Fletcher and after Lucas Joao got on the wrong side of Wood, he took a tumble. It was not one of those incidents where you immediately scream penalty, so much so that when Robinson blew his whistle, you weren’t sure whether it was going to be for a spot-kick or for a dive. But it was for a penalty and it was the result of minimal, if any, contact from Wood. Joao went down with far too much gusto and convinced Robinson to give a penalty. Had the exact same incident happened at the other end of the pitch, at the same time in the game, with Dexter Blackstock going down, would the same decision have been made? It’s unlikely, it was definitely a home decision.
If you can excuse Robinson for awarding the penalty, there is zero justification for him showing Wood the red card. Wood’s dismissal obviously had no impact on the remainder of the game, but it was simply wrong. He did not deny a goalscoring opportunity as Joao was flanked by two defenders and the striker was not even in possession of a bouncing ball. A new ruling in the summer means that Wood’s red card should be rescinded to a yellow, meaning he will not have to serve a suspension. That is if Robinson viewed the challenge as an attempt to win the ball. We can’t trust him to do that, so maybe the Millers will have to appeal. It’s a shame they can’t appeal any of Robinson’s other decisions.
After Robinson had put his card away, all that was left was for Fletcher to coolly convert the last-gasp penalty and break Rotherham’s hearts.
It was a bitter pill to swallow and left Millers fans, who may have been expecting a defeat before the game, feeling robbed – well the tickets did cost £36.
Four players, including Wood, made it into Robinson’s little black book throughout the game. But after this display, Robinson has made it into every Rotherham fan’s little black book of referees they never want to see again.