Ref analysis: Kevin Friend (QPR vs. Everton 2011/12)

This article originally appeared on Debatable Decisions

Kevin Friend endured a pretty torrid time as referee at Loftus Road today as QPR and Everton played out a frustrating 1-1 draw in the Premier League.

Bobby Zamora’s headed equaliser after Royston Drenthe’s 25 yard pearler both came in a pulsating first half. Both Adel Taarabt and Akos Buzsaky struck posts for QPR as their relegation worries deepened.

Both sides started with 4-4-1-1 formations, with the two teams packed with strong, powerful players. It’s always going to be a difficult game to referee when Marouane Fellaini, John Heitinga, Joey Barton and Shaun Derry are lining up on the same pitch. There were also the nippy, delicate forms of Steven Pienaar, Adel Taarabt and Shaun Wright-Phillips, so plenty of pace and trickery was added to the game to make judging tackles – and, therefore, fouls – that little bit more difficult.

It was a challenge on Wright-Phillips which drew the first real controversy of the match. Friend should have given QPR the advantage as the ball found its way to a QPR player, unmarked, in the area after Wright-Phillips was fouled on the edge of the box. QPR would have surely scored if play had been allowed to continue, although a fine save from Tim Howard only prevented Buzsaky from scoring the resulting free-kick anyway.

The problem here is that the referee was too quick on the whistle. If Friend had looked past the poor tackle he would have seen QPR in the clear and would have been commended for allowing the advantage. However, hesitancy in decision-making in football refereeing is often linked to weakness – it’s a lot easier for Friend to make the straight decision of giving a free-kick rather than look uncertain and cautious. It is probably still a grey area, though, and so QPR manager Mark Hughes and the QPR fans were understandably annoyed with the decision.

They were again annoyed soon after when Pienaar appeared to trip Nedum Onouha en-route to looping in a cross, forcing a corner from goalkeeper Paddy Kenny. The trip was seemingly accidental but that doesn’t mean it didn’t impede QPR’s defence against Pienaar. A lot more fury would have ensued if a goal had been the result rather than a corner.

Shortly after Drenthe’s goal on the half-hour mark, the Dutch winger – prone to the odd desperate challenge – lunged in on Taarabt, bringing down the Moroccan right on the by-line. The challenge was needless – Drenthe should have either stayed on his feet or thrown himself in front of Taarabt (instead of at him) in an attempt to block the imminent cross.

From the resulting free-kick, Zamora bundled in the equaliser, heading down into the ground, beating Tim Howard at the near post.

Drenthe was booked for the challenge and was followed into the referee’s notebook by teammate Pienaar for showing dissent towards the officials. The only other card shown in the game was given to Derry for a foul on Seamus Coleman.

The first half saw Friend make a few questionable decisions but the second saw the game descend into a scrappy affair – the referee didn’t really let the game flow as much as he could have done. Neither team really had a hold in the game, with QPR continuing to press but restricted to largely long-range shots on goal.

One shot on target in total was recorded in the second half, while Everton committed 16 fouls compared to QPR’s eight in the last 45. In total, 34 fouls were committed in the match, with QPR making the most with 18.

Friend, it has to be said, almost spoilt the game at times, breaking up the play needlessly and setting a precedent of picking up on every little skirmish. It was a poor performance from Friend and one that was all the more disappointing given that it was a performance littered with basic errors of judgement.

Referee Rating: 5/10


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