The curious case of Keith Stroud

Last updated : 17 April 2013 By SheffieldUnitedMad @ The Lane

Keith Stroud3

Fans often come away from a game of football berating the performance of the referee, but the antics of last night's man in the middle Keith Stroud took the officiating lunacy to another level!

Officials often get tarnished with trying to be the "centre of attention", but those three words probably couldn't be more apt when analysing Mr Stroud's evening at the Lane; 11 yellow cards, four penalties and three red cards back that up!

The amusing thing about it was that it wasn't particularly a dirty game, but the Bournemouth-born official (yes, very dodgy indeed) seemed intent on brandishing just about every player on the pitch with a caution; he made shocking decisions for both sides.

It may have been exciting for any neutrals inside the ground, but you would be hard pushed to find any such neutrals on a night with high stakes, in a contest between two promotion-chasing sides.

Right, onto the game! Seldom do you find yourself irritated by an opposition player getting booked, but the precedent was set last night when Stroud cautioned Brentford keeper Simon Moore for time wasting after just 15 minutes. Very harsh indeed.

In a game of FOUR spot-kicks, it was Clayton Donaldson who won the first of the night after being fouled by George Long; Marcello Trotta hammered home straight down the middle.

United would have a penalty of their own just five minutes after the restart following an off-the-ball incident between Dave Kitson and Tony Craig, which resulted in the linesman vigorously waving his flag for a penalty; Craig was given a straight red. Right-back Tony McMahon stepped up to the plate but blazed his spot-kick against the crossbar in front of the Kop.

United would be awarded a second penalty 10 minutes later after Hodson's handling of the ball inside the penalty area; the duties this time were down to substitute Barry Robson; he duly obliged and rocketed the ball past the keeper with the aid of a post.

Chris Morgan's men doubled their advantage against the 10-men through Dave Kitson's powerful header to send Bramall Lane into raptures.

The game was turned on its head yet again when Harry Maguire was given his marching orders for a second yellow card which left Bramall Lane bewildered to say the least. A FOURTH penalty was awarded in the process, but Sam Saunders was prevailed by George Long.

There was still time for Stroud to get his red card out for a THIRD time when he also sent Brentford's Clayton Donaldson off for a second bookable offence.

United couldn't see the game out and were made to pay on 89 minutes when January transfer target Bradley Wright-Phillips beat Neill Collins in a race to the ball and slotted the ball into Long's far corner.

In the added six minutes, McMahon's pile-driver from the edge of the box was superbly tipped onto the post by Moore - a wonderful save in fairness.

If United are to get their wish of promotion it is looking increasingly likely that it'll have to be down the route of the play-offs again. 5th time lucky in the final, eh?

And just to think Mr Stroud has taken charge of top flight games as part of the Select Group referees in the past, it will come to no surprise to find out he was quickly demoted back into the National List and is kept far away from England's elite league.