Carluke Rovers chairman Ian McKnight has launched a stinging attack on the standard of refereeing in Scottish junior football, writes Craig Goldthorp.
The John Cumming Stadium supremo was raging that Rovers conceded a late equaliser which he thought looked two metres offside as his side dropped two crucial points in their battle for promotion in Saturday’s 2-2 League Two draw at local rivals Forth Wanderers.
McKnight told the Carluke and Lanark Gazette: “How the referee couldn’t see their player standing in an offside position, I’ll never know.
“It is the third time this season that a blatantly offside goal like that has been given against us.
“We are being short changed by incompetence.
“A lot of the referees are not up to the mark and we are suffering.
“It is part and parcel of football.
“People say these things even themselves out over the course of a season.
“But I think that viewpoint is rubbish. We feel really hard done by.
“We can maybe let these bad decisions against us go once or twice, but when it gets to a third time you have to say something.
“We’re only halfway through this campaign, so does that mean it’s going to happen to us six times by the end of the season?
“The referees are not up to it. If that’s the standard that is getting churned out by the referee’s association then they are needing a shake up.”
The incident that enraged McKnight and his Rovers cohorts came on 80 minutes when Forth cleared upfield to their player who looked two metres offside. When his cross came over, scorer Nathan Fell also appeared offside when netting to make it 2-2.
Responding to McKnight’s gripes, Scottish Junior FA West Region fixtures secretary Kennie Young told the Gazette: “Referees come in for a lot of criticism.
“But what you have to remember is that guys refereeing junior League One and League Two games are doing it on their own, without assistant referees.
“It is hard for them to make offside decisions with nobody giving them help.
“At the lower end of the juniors, the referee could be a young boy who is just coming in and learning the game so I don’t like criticising them.”
Kennie added: “I don’t think it is incompetence from the referees.
“I think it is just them making genuine mistakes.
“Referees are getting pelters from all angles.
“They will never get it right all the time.
“It doesn’t matter what they do, there will always be someone to criticise them.
“Everyone knows about the flak top referees like John Beaton have been getting recently.
“Well that is the level that these junior referees are aspiring to get to. They are on a learning curve.”
Saturday’s derby had earlier seen Rovers leading 1-0 at half-time thanks to Ciaran Lafferty, who tapped the ball home after a low Stephen Larkin cross.
But Forth equalised in the second half when poor Rovers defending allowed Swann Vachet to convert a Kris Jarvie cross.
Carluke regained their advantage on 70 minutes when Larkin slotted home the rebound after Haley’s initial effort had been brilliantly saved.
Then came the late controversy as Forth snatched a point which dents Carluke’s League Two promotion bid.