BOBBY MADDEN is no stranger to controversy when the referee and Celtic occupy the same pitch on match day.
The whistler’s display in the Hoops’ Scottish Cup semi-final exit on Sunday was labelled “absolutely baffling” according to former Scotland international midfielder Kris Commons while one-time Parkhead goal hero Chris Sutton reckoned: “Madden turned in one of the worst refereeing performances I’ve seen in Scotland for a long time…and that’s saying something!”
CQN also made a few salient points with the match official point-blank refusing to take any action against John Lundstram who charged around the pitch firing into challenges deemed to be dangerous by many onlookers and certainly worth a card.
ONSIDE…Calvin Bassey prepares to race onto a pass from Ryan Kent with Stephen Welsh covering. Referee Bobby Madden gets a good view and the move results in the Ibrox side’s winning goal in extra-time.
OFFSIDE…Greg Taylor prepares to move onto a pass from Callum McGregor with John Souttar covering. Referee Bobby Madden gets a good view and the move is deemed offside to prevent Celtic going ahead against Hearts.
Commons, in fact, stated: “He could quite easily have been booked on three separate occasions.”
The former Sheffield United player was replaced in the 102nd minute without a blemish to his character. It was just another puzzling aspect of a match that was perplexing to many onlookers throughout the world.
Not much was made of the lead-up to the Ibrox side’s winning goal six minutes from the end of extra-time.
Take a look at the images of Ryan Kent about to release a pass to Calvin Bassey with Stephen Welsh in attendance.
There’s more than a hint of offside, but play was waved on and the cross from the defender was deflected past Joe Hart by the unfortunate Carl Starfelt for the goal that settled the tie.
TIGHT…the angle shows Calvin Bassey may just be a shade ahead of Stephen Welsh as Ryan Kent hits his pass.
Clearly, the Govan team were given the benefit of the doubt although, as the images emphasise, it was touch and go and it could be said on another day with another referee the effort could have been ruled out on a hairline decision. Yes, as we know to our cost, it is fine margins at this level.
And that takes us back to an almost identical incident at Tynecastle on the Saturday evening of July 31 last year with Ange Postecoglou in the midst of his Premiership debut as Celtic manager after arriving from Yokohama F Marinos the previous month.
There was an hour on the clock with the scoreline deadlocked at 1-1 after an excellent strike from Anthony Ralston had nullified former team-mate Gary Mackay-Stevens’ opener for the home side.
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT…Ange Postecoglou watches Celtic in Premiership action for the first time against Hearts at Tynecastle on July 31 2021.
The Hoops built a sweet move on the left with some superb one-touch play and Ismaila Soro found Callum McGregor a couple of yards outside the penalty box.
The skipper wasted no time in pushing a pass into the tracks of Greg Taylor who carried the ball towards the bye-line before whipping over an inviting low cross. New Bhoy Liel Abada arrived bang on time to thump the ball past ex-Hoops netminder Craig Gordon.
It looked good and there were no protests from Robbie Neilson’s players. Remarkably, the referee in charge – that man Bobby Madden – chalked it off for offside with Taylor the culprit.
ONSIDE…OR NOT? Greg Taylor is outside the box with his left leg in motion as Callum McGregor is just about to strike the pass. Centre-back John Souttar is playing him on. Referee Bobby Madden is in a good position to view the movement.
Take a look at the images. Unless the Celtic left-back is on an invisible motor bike or has missed his true sporting vocation as a gold medal-winning Olympian sprinter, he can’t possibly be offside. For a start, he is not even in the penalty box a heartbeat before McGregor strikes the pass.
John Souttar, the home side’s central defender, clearly has both feet in the area as the midfielder prepares to slide in his team-mate. In another image, it looks as though Hearts No.2 Michael Smith could also be playing the Celt onside.
We’ll cut Madden some slack, because we are a fair-minded team at CQN, and say the whistler could have acted on a flag from his standside assistant at Tynecastle. However, he does have the final say in these judgements and could have overruled the advice.
He chose not to and it cost Celtic a goal that would have put them ahead in a game where they dominated possession with a whopping 74 per cent of the ball and seven shots on target to the home team’s four.
QUICK OFF THE MARK…Greg Taylor moves forward to receive the pass from his skipper.
TWO v ONE…Michael Smith (No.2) and John Souttar are both in a position to play Greg Taylor onside.
PASSMASTER…Callum McGregor slips in Greg Taylor with the right foot of John Souttar ahead of the Celt.
WALLOP…Liel Abada slams Greg Taylor’s cross past keeper Craig Gordon for what looked a legitimate second goal. The match officials had other ideas, though, much to the relief of the Hearts players.
NO GOAL…Liel Abada’s joy is short-lived as referee Bobby Madden rules out his strike.
It didn’t get much better for Postecoglou or Celtic in their quest to get off to a winning start in the league. Madden ignored a cynical trip from Andy Halliday on McGregor as the captain broke into attack. The Hearts player was most fortunate not to see red.
With the clock ticking down, the referee gave the home side a free-kick on the left for a perceived foul by Soro. To many viewers it looked as though the award should have gone the other way after a tussle on the touchline.
As luck would have it, Smith curled the award into the box and Souttar was unchallenged as he rose to hammer a header behind the badly-positioned Scott Bain for the winning goal.
Celtic travelled home with no points when it could so easily have been three.
SURPRISED…Ange Postecoglou can’t prevent his emotions from showing during a bewildering game in the capital.
It was a baptism of fire for the new Celtic gaffer who may have already guessed that it was never going to be easy.
Stripping away any accusations of paranoia, the Greek-Australian, managing in Europe for the first time at the age of 55, has steadfastly refused to waver from the path he is convinced is the correct one for his team.
With five games to go, Celtic are six points ahead at the Premiership pinnacle and will get back on course for the big prize when they play Ross County in Dingwall with a 2.30pm kick-off on Sunday.