The FA Challenge Cup brings back great memories for me having refereed the 100th Final between Manchester City v Liverpool in 1981.

I was also senior linesman in the 1979 Cup Final between Arsenal v Manchester United

So I have reviewed a number of games providing my thoughts on the performances of the referees.

Liverpool v Everton 1-0

Referee Jonathan Moss

A very entertaining game with players from both sides on their best behaviour serving up an entertaining game.

Referee Jon Moss delivering his best performance of the season applying some very good advantages and once again he demonstrated improved movement on the field of play,

One challenge by Calvert Lewin of Everton was worthy of a yellow card.

Both goalkeepers made some stunning saves

The main talking point was the winning goal which was stunningly scored by man of the match Curtis Jones

Crystal Palace v Derby County  0-1

Referee Michael Oliver

Wayne Rooney was playing his first game following his return from the MLS. However, the big talking point of the weekend was Michael Oliver creating history by reviewing his yellow card decision after the intervention of VAR David Coote.

Yes, the pitchside monitor was used, and Michael showed courage by correctly issuing a red card sanction to Crystal Palace Milivojevic. Frankly, I have been calling for this VAR pitchside monitor to be used, I hope that the PGMOL Boss now changes his stance and gives the opportunity to referees to use it.

Derby County won the game 1-0

Middlesbrough v Tottenham Hotspur

Referee Stuart Attwell

Referee Attwell once again trusted with a top appointment. The home team scored the first goal with a tight offside decision. This was a game where VAR was not in operation if it had been this goal would have been ruled out for offside,

Spurs quickly responded with an equaliser.

An entertaining game which ended in a one-one draw and both teams go into the hat for the next round draw with the team winning the replay advancing to the 4th round.

The replay will have VAR in operation which is in my opinion unsatisfactory. All or nothing is my view.

Another good performance from Referee Attwell who continues to build his reputation and I applaud his fitness

Sheffield United v AFC Fylde 2-1

Referee Jarred Gillet

Great to see former top FIFA Australian referee Gillet in charge of this tie. He demonstrated his great level of fitness when he chased down a powerful breakaway by the away team to be a few yards from a challenge inside the United penalty area. He correctly turned down appeals for a penalty kick.

Well done Jarred

Gillingham v West Ham Utd 0-2

Referee Andy Madley

Gillingham’s Alfie Jones pulled back the WHU player Lanzini. Shortly afterwards there was a clear pulling offence on a WHU player that should have resulted in a penalty kick. The incident unseen by the official

In the 74th minute, Zabaleta put WHU in front with a shot that went through the legs of the advancing goalkeeper

WHU scored a second goal in the 94th minute on a tie that was comfortably managed by referee Madley who was recently elevated to the FIFA panel.

Chelsea v Nottingham Forest 2-0

Referee Peter Bankes

Chelsea took the lead in the opening 6 minutes. Then after good movement by the referee, he was in a good position to award a penalty kick to Nottingham Forest.

However with VAR in operation, the penalty kick was overruled in favour of yet another one of those tight offside decisions. However on this occasion, I could see that the forward was clearly offside, I did not have to wait for those lines been drawn across the pitch,

Chelsea scored a second with no need to review VAR on this one – good call by the Asst to keep his flag down

Forest had the ball in the back of the net but sadly it was ruled out by the tightest of margins VAR ruling that the player was offside.

Peter Bankes needs to practice the VAR procedural signal by making the square signal first then raising his arm to indicate offside,

Small point, but the uniformity of signals is important.

Burton Albion v Northampton Town  2-4

Referee Jeremy Simpson

The away team opened the scoring in the 10th minute of the game. No delay, another match where VAR was not in operation

Keith Hackett
Former Head of PGMOL
keith@keystofootball.com