ANYONE taking in AFC Wimbledon’s 3-1 victory over Oxford United in League One on Sunday afternoon will have witnessed a rather strange performance from referee Darren Deadman.
The controversial official had an afternoon he would probably want to forget quickly at the Kassam Stadium as Oxford, in particular, were left to count the cost of a number of bizarre decisions.
The hosts will be aggrieved at having a cast-iron penalty turned down in the first half when Wimbledon skipper Barry Fuller clearly tripped Chris Maguire in the box.
Head coach Michael Appleton may also feel Tom Elliott could have been sent off for a robust challenge early on, which he was only booked for, before the Wimbledon striker opened the scoring.
To the amazement of most, the second Wimbledon goal was allowed to stand after what appeared to be a dangerous two-footed challenge from Dean Parratt on Wes Thomas, before Darius Charles curled home a stunning effort into the top corner.
In truth, Deadman, who is no stranger to controversy in his career, failed to take control from the start and allowed a number of robust challenges go without punishment.
He had a number of key decisions to make and many will argue he got the majority of them wrong – in what was another inconsistent display from a referee once touted for Premier League promotion.
Strangely, six minutes of added time were given at the end of the second half, during which Oxford fans cried “3-1 to the referee” – one of a number of chants aimed at the whistler who is bound to get stick anyway having hailed from Cambridgeshire.
But supporters of both sides, and indeed neutral viewers, were left aghast by the man in the middle’s performance…
Deadman is often colloquially known as “Dead Man Walking” by enraged supporters and he might want to avoid the streets of Oxford having been booed off after his latest poor showing.
Despite a series of contentious calls and Oxford having reason to be hard done by, Wimbledon merited their first ever victory over the U’s.
Elliott broke the deadlock with a close-range header before Charles curled in a wondergoal, with Deadman looking straight at what should have been a foul in the build-up, and Andy Barcham slotted in a third.
Charles turned Maguire’s cross into his own net early in the second half but it proved a mere consolation for Oxford, who lost their unbeaten home record this term against their fellow newly-promoted opponents.