Newcastle United played Burton Albion yesterday in a match noteworthy only for one particularly galling error made by head referee Keith Stroud. These Sky Sports pundits discussing the mistake on air were just as bemused by the incident as the moment called for.
Newcastle had been awarded a penalty in the first half, which winger Matt Ritchie took and scored. As the team celebrated, Stroud blew his whistle to indicate he saw something wrong in the penalty-taking process, and disallowed Ritchie’s attempt. Indeed, Ritchie’s teammate Dwight Gayle did run into the penalty area before the shot was taken, and while encroachment is rarely called, it was correct.
The problem wasn’t the encroachment call itself; it was what happened next. Rather than hand the ball back to Ritchie to retake the penalty, as the rules stipulate, Stroud gave Burton an indirect free kick. That would’ve been the correct call had Ritchie missed his penalty, but he didn’t.
Newcastle went on to win the match, 1-0, so a potential travesty was averted. Stroud has since copped to his mistake and has been taken off a League One match he was set to oversee on Saturday. The mini-suspension sucks for Stroud as it is clearly punishment for his error, but it might be just what he wanted, as the only place Stroud probably wants to be for the next week is curled up in a ball, alone, in his bed.