News and Views
Fulham Match Abandoned As Fog Clears
31 December 2016
By John Wells
A moment of crass stupidity and gross incompetence by referee James Linington ruined an evening's entertainment for thousands of football fans at the Madejski Stadium this evening. Before setting off on my sixty mile journey to this evening's game I took the precaution of checking the weather forecast. The BBC website predicted thick fog around 8.00 p.m. clearing quickly around 9.00 p.m. It would appear referee Linington failed to consider the weather forecast as an indicator of how the weather might change during the course of the game. Regardless of this oversight he allowed the game to begin as the fog rolled in. Conditions worsened as the game progressed, but not sufficiently to warrant abandonment. As half time approached, as predicted, the fog began to lift, and when the second half was due to begin there was little evidence of any fog anywhere - apart from in the space between Mr Linington's ears!
Without bothering to step out onto pitch he decided to abandon the game on the basis of his assistants' opinion that the other side of the pitch was not visible thereby making it difficult to make accurate decisions. (They seemed to be having just as much difficulty spotting incidents, such as a blatant tug on Kermorgant's arm in the penalty area as he moved towards the ball, occurring right under their nose. As far as I was aware the referee should allow the game to continue as long as he is able to see both goals from the centre of the pitch. Had he bothered to check before he made his absurd decision, he would have found visibility more than adequate to see across the pitch as thousands of spectators would verify. The stadium announcer declared the fog to be "worse outside the ground" which made all the more galling as we all queued in perfect visibility to leave the car park which for some reason took much linger that usual. The decision to abandon the game after everyone had purchased their half time refreshment and had settled down in their seats for the second half. As Mr Linington is employed by the Football League they should compensate the spectators (liable due to referee's error!)
In spite of the conditions the first half was keenly contested. Fulham may have had slightly more possession but Reading created the two best chances. McCleary beat the offside trap with a superbly timed run but a poor touch hampered his chances of making the most of the opportunity. He still managed to get his shot away but by then Bettinelli had set himself and turned the ball wide for a corner. McCleary should have scored but he usually finishes more convincingly when he does not have some much time to make his decision about how to beat the 'keeper. There second effort came in stoppage time and was a brilliant solo effort from Harriot who wriggled past lunging defenders to unleash a thunderbolt which Bettinelli saved at full stretch. Sadly he put so much into his shot he appeared to have torn his hamstring and limped off for what looks like being a lengthy lay off.
Both teams played well in spite of being closed down very quickly all over the pitch with Fulham edging control of midfield. Kelly in no way shirked a challenge but was simply overpowered by the Fulham's physical presence. In view of the recent drubbing at Craven Cottage Jaap Stam's team had a much more secure look about them - apart the left side where the visitors seemed to get behind the defence with alarming regularity. (This also happened in the game on Boxing Day.) Also worth noting the absence of Moore in the heavy away defeat was significant. He was excellent again this evening. His full blooded challenge on Aluko was worthy of a Tackle of the Season Award.
It is hard to say which way the result might have gone but it was cracking first half with two very good sides going at each other with some intensity. It promised to be an even better second half but thanks to Mr Linington it did not happen. Fulham looked as good as any team I have seen in this league this season and I am looking forward to the re-arranged fixture whenever that may be. So at the mid-point in the season the Royals find themselves in third place in the table. It looks like being a happy new year for their fans.
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