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need to be ready for that.

Maid­stone did not knock us out be­cause they had more of the ball.We had 60-70 per cent of pos­ses­sion in the 180 min­utes we played. They did, though, fight in­cred­i­bly hard to de­fend their goal and to at­tack ours.

When they went for­ward, they seemed to have worked out that they needed to have a re­ally di­rect pur­pose. We def­i­nitely didn’t un­der­es­ti­mate them.We paid them real at­ten­tion. Pos­si­bly, we gave them too much of our at­ten­tion. Per­haps that was our er­ror.

But the big­gest fac­tor was the spirit gen­er­ated by a for­ward- think­ing club in per­fect har­mony. Play­ers, fans, club were all pulling hard to­gether. Maid­stone brought 1,400 fans to our ground, while Blyth took a sim­i­lar num­ber to Hartle­pool. This unity was a great strength.

When­ever a ‘sur­prise’ hap­pens in the Cup, it hap­pens for a rea­son. There will be many more this year. And I’ll bet my five points are in clear ev­i­dence. I WROTE in this col­umn some time be­fore the World Cup that I had read about white foam be­ing used to mark out dis­tances at free kicks.

A sim­ple con­cept. And, as we all know, it is now in fairly wide use.

It makes me laugh that we have white foam but we still don’t have video re­plays on key in­ci­dents.

But on the ba­sis that white foam has been in­tro­duced, I got to think­ing about other sim­ple ways of im­prov­ing game man­age­ment by refs.

I re­cently watched an FA Cup tie and was sat close to the dugouts. At one stage, with their team los­ing, I clearly saw one of the dugouts sig­nal to their striker to go to ground in­jured. The pro­longed in­jury en­abled the team to move to the tech­ni­cal area and get briefed by the man­ager. They went on to win the game after this ‘time out’.

There are oc­ca­sions in a game when a man­ager does need to make changes to his tac­ti­cal set-up. Do­ing this in game is a dif­fi­cult process, es­pe­cially away from home and es­pe­cially if the prob­lem that you are suf­fer­ing is not a planned/fore­seen is­sue.

Al­low­ing each man­ager one of­fi­cial twominute time out per half would not cre­ate un­due de­lay in a game.

But it would prob­a­bly put pay to a lot of frus­tra­tion that is felt when you get the sense that all is not as it seems with ‘in­juries’ to op­po­si­tion play­ers at cer­tain times. A FEL­LOW man­ager was told me re­cently that

grossly un­fair that it no right a player should

of ap­peal over an have in the event in­cor­rect yel­low

that he re­ceives card ac­cumu-lat­ing5,10a ban for

or 15 cards. His view yel­low cards was that any

that had been‘wrongly’ should be re­viewed is­sued

at ap­peal. A num­ber of us dis­cussed agreed that the mat­ter and

a sys­tem whereby were marked dis­puted

for re­view cards inci-dent­wastherigh­tat the time of any

way to go about it. This method would on not place a huge bur­den

the au­thor­i­ties but ben­e­fit it would almost cer­tainly

the fair num­ber of mis-car­ria­ge­ofjus­tice­lads who suf­fer a

un­der the cur­rent sys­tem whereby yel­low cards, deal. once is­sued,are a

done Refs do get reds wrong yel-lowswrong.Let’sac­cep­tand they do get prob­lem that and solve a that cre­ates un­fair­ness.

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