Sun. Feb 28th, 2021

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Are Southampton right to say VAR verdicts unfairly went against them?

6 min read

Southampton have made the sensational request that neither Lee Mason nor Mike Dean referee any of their matches in the near future.

The Saints are fuming after a series of decisions went against them in their losses to Aston Villa and Manchester United over the last four days.

And they feel the controversy surrounding the calls will make it hard for the two officials to take charge of upcoming games. The club is set to talk to referees’ body PGMOL to discuss the situation.

But are they justified in their grievance? We take a closer look at the decision that went against them.

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has been left scratching his head over decisions

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has been left scratching his head over decisions

The Saints have requested that Lee Mason (left) doesn't referee their games in near future

The Saints have requested that Lee Mason (left) doesn’t referee their games in near future 

They also don't want Mike Dean (left) in charge after controversial calls at Old Trafford

They also don’t want Mike Dean (left) in charge after controversial calls at Old Trafford 

Saturday: Southampton 0-1 Aston Villa

Matty Cash handball – Verdict: No penalty

Aston Villa’s Matty Cash appeared to clearly handle the ball inside the penalty area after Stuart Armstrong fired towards goal.

Referee Lee Mason didn’t award the penalty or show Cash the red card that might be expected, instead sending it to VAR official Mike Dean to assess the replays.

After almost two minutes of deliberation over replays, Dean decided it wasn’t deliberate handball and no penalty was awarded to Southampton.

Aston Villa's Matty Cash appeared to clearly handle in the box early in Saturday night's game at St Mary's - but Southampton weren't awarded a penalty

Aston Villa’s Matty Cash appeared to clearly handle in the box early in Saturday night’s game at St Mary’s – but Southampton weren’t awarded a penalty

VAR official Mike Dean watched almost two minutes of replays before deciding no penalty

VAR official Mike Dean watched almost two minutes of replays before deciding no penalty

Southampton were left furious that Cash wasn't penalised for what looked a clear handball

Southampton were left furious that Cash wasn’t penalised for what looked a clear handball

Former top-flight official Chris Foy, writing in the Mail on Sunday, said that because the ball deflected off Cash’s thigh and onto his arm, it wasn’t a deliberate handball.

Foy questioned whether the ball would have struck his arm but for the deflection.

Verdict: It would have taken an eagle-eyed official to spot the deflection, which really wasn’t visible from any of the replays shown on television footage. You can’t escape the impression that many penalties have been awarded from similar situations and Southampton were hard done by.

Danny Ings disallowed goal for offside

Southampton striker Ings thought he’d rescued a point for Southampton in stoppage time when he pounced to score after Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez had pushed out a shot by Che Adams.

But a raised offside flag quickly cut short celebrations and VAR official Dean, after studying replays, decided that the end of Ings’ sleeve on his outstretched arm was fractionally beyond the backside of the crouching last defender Cash and therefore offside.

The rule tweaked at the beginning of the season, that anything below the sleeve line constitutes handball, seemed to be applied to suggest that Ings’ sleeve is part of his shoulder and, therefore, he could score with it legally, meaning he was offside.

Southampton thought they'd equalised late-on against Aston Villa but Danny Ings was judged offside by one of the tightest offside calls yet

Southampton thought they’d equalised late-on against Aston Villa but Danny Ings was judged offside by one of the tightest offside calls yet

VAR replays showed that Ings' sleeve, which is classed as a goalscoring part of the body, was fractionally beyond Matty Cash's backside and therefore offside

VAR replays showed that Ings’ sleeve, which is classed as a goalscoring part of the body, was fractionally beyond Matty Cash’s backside and therefore offside

Ings reacts to the disallowed goal, which would have earned the Saints a valuable late point

Ings reacts to the disallowed goal, which would have earned the Saints a valuable late point 

Afterwards, Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl joked that he would cut the players’ sleeves shorter in the dressing room, while Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher said attackers should roll their sleeves up.

Roy Keane, also in the Sky studio, added: ‘It’s tough [on Southampton]. The attacking team should be given the benefit of the doubt if it’s such a close call. Give it to the attacking team.’

Verdict: By the letter of the law, it’s the correct decision. But there were mere millimetres in it and the decision could have gone either way. In the end, it actually probably came down to the fact Ings was wearing a black armband, which extended his ‘sleeve’. Again, Southampton can feel aggrieved by the decision and it’s little wonder such fractional calls cause fans to hate VAR.

VAR official Mike Dean decided that Ings' sleeve was just offside as the ball came through

VAR official Mike Dean decided that Ings’ sleeve was just offside as the ball came through

Ings' agonised expression reveals his thinking as the close call goes against Southampton

Ings’ agonised expression reveals his thinking as the close call goes against Southampton

Tuesday: Manchester United 9-0 Southampton

Che Adams disallowed goal for offside

Southampton trail United 4-0 at Old Trafford following the second-minute sending off of Alex Jankewitz for a horror challenge on Scott McTominay.

They think they’ve pulled a goal back when Che Adams finishes past David de Gea from a tight angle after being played in from a free-kick.

But referee Mike Dean gets the shout from VAR official Graham Scott that a check for offside against Adams is needed.

Che Adams thought he'd scored a consolation goal for Southampton at Manchester United

Che Adams thought he’d scored a consolation goal for Southampton at Manchester United 

But the goal was disallowed by VAR for one of the tightest offside decisions yet

But the goal was disallowed by VAR for one of the tightest offside decisions yet

VAR replays decided that Adams' hand was beyond the line and the goal was chalked off

VAR replays decided that Adams’ hand was beyond the line and the goal was chalked off

The replays show one of the most marginal offside decisions yet, with Adams’ hand seemingly adjudged to be offside.

Verdict: It appears Adams’ hand has been considered beyond the offside line but it isn’t a part of the body with which he could score a goal, so it should have stood. That’s especially true in the context of the Ings disallowed goal on Saturday. Not that the goal would have made much difference to the scoreline but Saints should have had a consolation.

Jan Bednarek conceded penalty and sending off

Bednarek endured a nightmare evening. Not only did he score and own goal for United’s third but he was adjudged to have fouled Anthony Martial to concede a penalty three minutes from time and was sent off.

There appeared to be minimal contact as Martial came across Bednarek and went down. After another VAR review lasting several minutes, Dean returned and pointed to the spot.

Jan Bednarek (right) was left incredulous at referee Mike Dean (left) after he was sent off

Jan Bednarek (right) was left incredulous at referee Mike Dean (left) after he was sent off

Upon replay many felt Manchester United striker Martial was already going down beforehand

Upon replay many felt Manchester United striker Martial was already going down beforehand

That decision angered the centre back who said 'Martial said it's not a foul!' as he walked off

That decision angered the centre back who said ‘Martial said it’s not a foul!’ as he walked off

Surprisingly, he then showed a straight red card to Bednarek, who was heard by TV microphones shouting ‘Martial said it’s not a foul’ as he begrudgingly went down the tunnel.

Bruno Fernandes rolled home the penalty to make it 8-0 as the Saints ended the game with nine men.

Verdict: The soft penalty award aside, Bednarek should not have been shown the red card. The rules state that if the offending player makes an attempt to play the ball, as Bednarek did, then it should only be a yellow card. Not that it would have made the faintest difference to the outcome of the game but the dubious decision certainly added to Southampton feeling hard done by.

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