Le­nient Thom­son was more than a mere foot­note in Old Firm story


IT WAS harder to tell who would be more re­lieved when Tom Rogic drew Celtic level for the sec­ond time, ref­eree Craig Thom­son or boss Ronny Deila.

The of­fi­cial made a crit­i­cal er­ror when over-rul­ing as­sis­tant ref­eree Alan Mul­vanny’s de­ci­sion to award a throw-in to Celtic when the ball had clearly come off James Tav­ernier’s knee.

It may have seemed in­con­se­quen­tial at the time given the area of the pitch it was in, but with one swing of Bar­rie McKay’s boot the ball nes­tled in the top cor­ner, bring­ing the mag­ni­tude of Thom­son’s er­ror to bear. It was a clear mis­take, and while credit for the goal is with McKay, there is no doubt Thom­son’s in­ter­ven­tion was crit­i­cal.

For the open­ing half an hour it looked as though Dundee United chair­man Stephen Thomp­son would have more chance of re­ceiv­ing a Christ­mas card from Wal­ter Smith than a player had of re­ceiv­ing a yel­low card from the ref­eree.

He could and prob­a­bly should have booked Gary McKay-Steven in the open­ing sec­onds for a lunge on Ja­son Holt, but kept his cards in his pocket.

Andy Hal­l­i­day then threw him­self down look­ing for a penalty, but Thom­son called it cor­rectly as he waved away the weak ap­peal.

The ref­eree seemed de­ter­mined to keep his pow­der dry early on at all costs, as he again de­clined to card Dedryck Boy­ata for haul­ing down Kenny Miller af­ter be­ing caught in pos­ses­sion.

Quite how he didn’t book the de­fender for a body-check on McKay is any­one’s guess, and com­ing af­ter he had missed a clear cor­ner for Celtic mo­ments ear­lier, the er­rors were mount­ing up.

He could also eas­ily have carded Dean Shiels for flat­ten­ing Kieran Tier­ney, but with the prece­dent set, a warn­ing was deemed suf­fi­cient.

Again the pol­icy was main­tained as a wild lunge by Scott Brown was pun­ished only with a free-kick.

Af­ter half an hour though, lo and be­hold, the yel­low card was shown as sub­sti­tute Erik Svi­atchenko dived in on Shiels. Iron­i­cally, it looked as though there was lit­tle con­tact, but the cau­tion calmed things down un­til the break.

The next book­ing didn’t ar­rive un­til the hour, but it was an easy one for Thom­son as Do­minic Ball hauled back Leigh Grif­fiths af­ter gift­ing pos­ses­sion.

Thom­son was back in le­nient mood though when he let Hal­l­i­day away with a slid­ing lunge on Pa­trick Roberts, but he had no choice other than to card Ste­fan Jo­hansen when the Nor­we­gian chopped down Bar­rie McKay.

Thom­son then cor­rectly waved away a soft-look­ing penalty claim for the sec­ond time when Celtic subs Cal­lum McGre­gor went down far too eas­ily.

A book­ing was shown to James Tav­ernier in the clos­ing min­utes as he tripped Roberts, and while that par­tic­u­lar cau­tion high­lighted in­con­sis­ten­cies in the ref­eree’s de­ci­sion-mak­ing, all-in­all it had been a rel­a­tively quiet 90 min­utes for Thom­son.

FI­NAL SAY: Craig Thom­son deals with Dean Shiels and Scott Brown

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