Somewhere Dion Dublin is sneaking…

What goes around comes around – or so it is said – and so when Sylvan Ebanks-Blake snuck back onto the field to give Wolves a 2-1 win over Coventry City the brain clattered back to the moment Dion Dublin nicked the ball off Shay Given to give Cov a win over Newcastle United back when the Sky Blues were in the Premiership.

Given is recorded in the goalkeeper blunder hall of fame for this unfairly. He was victim not really of a misunderstanding of the rules – Law 12.6 says a player is booked for entering or re-entering the field of play without the refereeā€™s permission and both Ebanks-Blake and Dublin have been allowed do just that to score goals.

In practical terms the officials have to allow a player who leaves the field to wander back on lest they be distracted from the job in hand of ensuring the game is fair yet when a player abuses this understanding to score a goal a caution is very much the order of the day and should the Referee decide on leniency then he must disallow the goal at least. Anything other is a perversion of the rules.

Mick McCarthy’s comments on the goal are misleading when he says

“Sylvan actually ran off the pitch and you’re not offside if you fall off. You’re not seeking to gain an advantage by staying off the pitch, if that’s the rule then he’s not offside.”

Coventry boss Chris Coleman was baffled saying

“The referee says the momentum takes Ebanks-Blake off the pitch, so when he re-enters he is not offside. If he is offside then he is offside – end of story. He comes on behind our defender and nods the ball in the back of the net. If he comes back onto the pitch then he has surely got to come back on in an onside position.”

The offence committed is on re-entering the field which is where – according to the Laws of the game – the game should have been stopped and an indirect free kick given to Coventry City. The surprising and troubling thing is the man in black making this mistake and then telling the managers a simply wrong interpretation of the rules was one of England’s top officials Steve Bennett.

What hope has football got lower down the leagues if either the Referees at the top do not know the laws of game or – when they make mistakes are not strong enough of character to apologise to all and issue a clarification which could teach other officials how to react to situations.

Had someone done that when Dion Dublin went a sneaking the Midlands derby would not have had the unfair result it did.

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