It is unlikely that the excellent Carole King had a refereeing performance decades into the future in mind when she wrote the song. But
Colin Randallwonders whether Heurelho Gomes enjoyed a huge slice of luck today, courtesy of the man in black, Kevin Friend, as Sunderland slumped to a barely deserved defeat …
IN the objective, sportsmanlike opinion of those in the south stand corner of White Hart Lane, it was clear that the turning point of today’s game came immediately after Heurelho Gomes charged out of goal to challenge Darren Bent, who was clean through.
He’d got away with it in the first half but Kevin Friend had no choice this time but to award a penalty. And a red card surely? No, Mr Friend deemed a yellow to be sufficient and a man who arguably should not even have been in a position to watch the kick being taken made a good save. Followed by two or three other crucial saves as Sunderland pressed for an equaliser to the first half goal.
Perhaps Match of the Day will rule he was right on each shout, if for example Bent was heading away from goal when fouled, and that the linesman inflicted no injustice to SAFC in failing to flag for offside when Robbie Keane scored the first (at least two SAFC views I have seen say it was marginally onside).
Mr Friend will have to forgive an outbreak of partisan commentary, however, and accept that Sunderland supporters left the ground feeling he had given precious little to their team, and quite a lot of benefit of the doubt to Spurs. Would an identical Craig Gordon challenge on Defoe have resulted in anything other than a sending off?
Let us put this as neutrally as we can: Sunderland were by far the better side for huge parts of the game. Only just before the second goal, a cracker from Huddlestone, and just afterwards did we look remotely on the ropes.
Reid saw a great, audacious lob come back off the woodwork after leaving Gomes utterly beaten; half chances came galore in the second half. Usually it was Gomes who stood in our way, when it ought to have been up to Alnwick as substitute in a 10-man side.
But for all our pretty play, we lacked punch and Spurs, when it counted, didn’t. And we were left nursing the outrageous thought that they had Kevin watching over them. “Best ref money can buy,” wrote a Spurs-supporting pal. No, he just had a poor game and we paid the price. And if MOTD does prove all that wrong, we’ll eat our words …