‘The game has been ruined tonight’: Montgomery fuming as controversy reigns

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Central Coast Mariners coach Nick Montgomery did not hold back as he lamented his side’s drama-filled loss to Melbourne City

Tuesday night was yet another in the A-League Men’s where the football on the pitch was far from the biggest talking point of the evening.

Rather, the Mariners’ loss to Melbourne City will largely be remembered for the two significant refereeing decisions which undeniably decided the fate of the match.

Both the award of a penalty to City just before half-time for a challenge which plainly occurred outside the box, and the non-award of a penalty to the Mariners in the final minutes of the game despite a clear foul in the box are the two incidents which captivated every observer of the contest.

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Unsurprisingly, Montgomery could hardly disguise his shock at the decisions in his post-match press conference.

“I am in disbelief,” Montgomery said.

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“I think we need an explanation for the decisions which were made. I am also really disappointed for the boys.”

The Mariners have endured a heartbreaking few weeks having succumbed to several last-minute equalisers and defeats.

However, Montgomery believes Tuesday night’s events were a disappointment and set-back for more than just his Mariners side.

“It’s sad for the game,” he said.

“I think the game has been ruined tonight.”

“It’s a spectacle that Australian football did not need. Nights like tonight really set the competition back,” Montgomery concluded.

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Such a scathing response from the coach is indicative of the severity of the errors made by the decision-makers on the night.

Any neutral observer could attest to the sour taste left in one’s mouth by the end of the contest, as the lesser-fancied Mariners were denied what should, at the very least, have been a credible point away to the defending champions.

Nonetheless, City head coach Patrick Kisnorbo was not overly sympathetic to his counterpart’s plight.

“I do not make that decision,” Kisnorbo said when asked for his opinion of the late non-award of a penalty.

“The VAR and the referees have to make a decision, and that is the decision that they made.”

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In terms of the game itself, Mariners coach Montgomery was full of praise for his young side for the way they responded to the difficult circumstances.

Montgomery was particularly pleased with how his side dealt with the disappointment of the penalty concession just before half-time.

“The boys were obviously disappointed because they all saw the incident,” Montgomery said.

“We regrouped at half-time, and I thought the boys came out really well in the second-half.”

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Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Montgomery remained optimistic about his squad’s mindset.

“We’ve got some resilient players,” he said.

“The boys are just disappointed they did not get the points tonight.

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“We have had a tough couple of weeks but we know that if we keep playing the way we are, we can match it with anybody in the competition,” Montgomery said.

The challenge is undoubtedly a significant one for the first-year coach.

Having to maintain a positive team morale after several disappointing results will offer a genuine test of Montgomery’s managerial skills, especially when so much of the frustration stems from decisions beyond the team’s control.

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Montgomery’s belief that the night’s refereeing decisions ruined the contest does not seem particularly out of line.

Of course, refereeing is a necessary but inherently challenging part of football.

Montgomery expressed a degree of sympathy for those having to make important decisions in the heat of the moment.

Nonetheless, even accounting for this leniency, what occurred in the Mariners-City match is at best inexplicable and at worst immeasurably damaging to the image of the competition.

In the shorter term, the result means the Mariners have slipped to second bottom on the A-League Men’s ladder and are drifting further from the top six.

No doubt the player management and motivational skills of Montgomery will receive a stern examination in the coming days as he seeks to revitalise his team after one of the darkest days in the A-League Men’s season.

Feature Image Credit: Robbie Szafranek

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Oscar Rutherford
Oscar Rutherford
Sports tragic studying Law/Arts at Monash University. Second-best paid Oscar working in football who has been to China.

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