The standard of refereeing in the League of Ireland has been a massive talking point this season, and Friday night's clash between Dundalk and Waterford featured another moment of unexpected refereeing.
The game took on a crucial significance, with both teams just above the relegation playoff spot.
Shocking refereeing call in Dundalk v Waterford
It's been quite the fall from grace for Dundalk. After winning five titles in six years between 2014 and 2019, they now find themselves near the foot of the table. Friday's clash with Waterford was a huge moment in Dundalk's season, as they attempted to put some breathing space between themselves and ninth place.
They took the lead in first-half stoppage time, through a Daniel Kelly strike, and were holding their 1-0 lead with thirteen minutes left when referee John McLoughlin made an unexpected call.
If anyone can understand how this can possibly be given as a free out let me know..... pic.twitter.com/RZSxZdd2hM
— Dom (@DomC0801) October 29, 2021
A long ball up the field from Dundalk was intended for Sean Murray, but he was unceremoniously body checked by Waterford defender Greg Halford. Halford checked his run to block the run of Murray and knocked him to the ground - but McLoughlin opted to give a free kick to Waterford.
Waterford have been on the receiving end of plenty of strange refereeing this season: in fact their struggles with refereeing this season have been well-documented. In July, Anthony Wordsworth was sent off for a second yellow card for kicking the ball away - even though he had actually only attempted to pass the ball to his teammate after the whistle had blown. This was a rare example of a dubious call going their way rather than against them.
The standard of refereeing in the SSE Airtricity League is becoming a real concern for managers and supporters. With every game available to fans to watch on LOITV, more incidents like the one from Oriel Park on Friday are being called out.
Luckily for Dundalk, they were able to hold on for a 1-0 win and take a vital three points. They have a four point cushion on ninth place Finn Harps.