Date: 21st August 2007 at 12:25pm
Written by:

It was an absolutely awful performance from referee Gavin Ward that cost Barnet any hope of getting anything from this game, with wrong decision after wrong decision all afternoon. And saying that alone would underestimate how bad Ward took charge of his first Football League game.

Every person in the ground was shocked by Ward’s officiating throughout the match, getting both the major and every minor incident wrong – and unfortunately for the Bees – therefore having huge consequences for Barnet. Notably these include 0 points from the first home game of the season, a straight red card for Joe Devera after just 19 minutes and thus missing next week’s game, as well as now Barnet lying a lowly 20th in the table with one point from two games, with tough fixtures against Brentford and Bradford up next. This could just be another very long season for Barnet Football Club.

What’s more, is how brilliantly Barnet got off the starting blocks when Ward blew his whistle at 3:00. The opening stages saw the Bees take the game to their visitors, with wave after wave of attack, and before the sending off, there was only one team in the match, with Hereford not even having been able to find a shot on goal.

Jason Puncheon got an cracking openener, ironically scoring an equally exquisite goal in this same fixture last season. Michael Leary won a header inside the area, which came out to Puncheon on the edge of the box, who, on the half-volley, curled a beauty into the near top corner.

Barnet 1 – 0 Hereford United

But things took a turn for the worse just before the 20 minute mark, when Devera was sent off for pulling back on Trevor Benjamin who was advancing towards the Bees’ goal. The referee, who was just yards from the incident with a clear view of it, waved play on before he stopped play to consult his assistant on the sideline – around 30 yards away. Then he was given his marching orders. Barnet fans and the manager was outraged by this decision, with the addition of the fact that Devera was not the last defender. For the rest of the half, Barnet had to try and get a goal on the counter-attack, with Utd dominant in possession, but failing to create chances as Max Porter made the switch to right-back and Ian Hendon to centre-half as Barnet reverted to a 4-3-2 formation. Even so, Lee Harrison made comfortable saves from mid and long-range efforts but made a brilliant stop to deny a Bulls’ striker from just a couple of yards who sent a powerful header seemingly destined for the back of the net.

But just with half-time approaching the referee made yet another major and incorrect decision when he penalised Porter for a handball in the area and awarded Hereford a penalty, converted by Trevor Benjamin.

Barnet 1 – 1 Hereford United

Porter knew little about the ball that struck his arm from just a few yards away which came at a blasting speed, and to everyone’s surprise Ward believed it to be intentional.

HT: Barnet 1 – 1 Hereford United

Despite being down to 10 men and up against 12, Anthony Thomas continued to look like a thorn and was proving his credentials as a League Two striker in his bright yellow boots. He made an amazing run past numerous Hereford players and shot agonisingly wide as Barnet looked to regain the lead. But that effort was clearly to much for the man in black to handle, realising Barnet were having ‘too much’ of the ball, he was insistant in handing every foul, especially those made by Hereford players, to the away side. And this payed off for the ref’s favoured team when on 66 minutes Benjamin smacked the post, and luckily fell to the only other United player in the box who gratefully made no mistake.

Barnet 1 – 2 Hereford United

More annoyingly, if it could get so for the home fans, two Barnet goals were ruled out. Sagi Burton scored a fine goal from a cross with his head but of course, Ward had to believe it was a ‘foul’ by the stand-in skipper. Adam Birchall could not change the ref’s policy either, having scored a perfectly legitimate goal but for, once again, absolutely no reason, the ref had to stop Barnet getting an equaliser.

FT: Barnet 1 – 2 Hereford United

It was an absolutely dispicable performance by Ward and one of the worst fans will see for a long long time.