Referee has night to forget as Bantams are held

'˜DON'T have nightmares, do sleep well,' is how Nick Ross used to sign off every episode of Crimewatch, the once-popular show that the BBC unceremoniously axed yesterday after 33 years.

Managers Richie Wellens and Stuart McCall come onto the pitch as referee Christopher Sarginson loses control of the situation.
Managers Richie Wellens and Stuart McCall come onto the pitch as referee Christopher Sarginson loses control of the situation.

Unfortunately for referee Christopher Sarginson, Ross’s famous catchphrase is one he is likely to have been unable to heed after a quite extraordinary episode towards the end of an entertaining draw between Bradford City and Oldham Athletic.

His attempts to book three players following a melee that he had not witnessed first-hand bordered on farcical.

The off-the-ball clash saw Charlie Wyke and Kean Bryan having to be separated by a scrum of players.

Sarginson’s problem as the trouble broke out was he had been busy booking Abdelhakim Omrani on the other side of the pitch for a clumsy foul on Timothee Dieng, meaning he had to rely on fourth official Sebastian Stockbridge and linesman Steven Rushton to pick out the miscreants.

This was duly done, only for Sarginson to march back on to the field, with yellow card at the ready, and then be unable to spot his intended targets.

As the crowd’s jeers turned into laughter, the hapless official cut a comedic, pantomime figure as he strolled all over the turf before finally finding Wyke and Rob Hunt.

Bryan, however, still evaded him despite the Latics defender not having moved for a full two minutes – leaving an exasperated Stuart McCall and fourth official Stockbridge to eventually point the referee in the right direction.

After chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ and ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’ rang out, Sarginson finally got his man – to ironic cheers from both sets of fans.

It was the main talking point as the crowd filed out, which was a shame as the game itself had been a cracker.

The first half, in particular, had been a wonderful advert for League One. Bradford, as the home side, made much of the running, McCall’s bold 4-3-3 formation allowing Omari Patrick and Paul Taylor to create sufficient havoc for Wyke to cause plenty of problems.

Behind that trio, Nicky Law and Jake Reeves provided even more attacking intent to ensure a Latics side who had won their last four games under Richie Wellens were rarely given a moment to rest.

To their credit, Oldham were also intent on taking the game to their hosts whenever possible. With pacey right-back Cameron Dummigan threatening down the flank, the visitors also ensured Bantams goalkeeper Colin Doyle also had to be alert right up until the last-minute deflected cross from Craig Davies that clipped the top of his crossbar.

The tone for the thrills and spills that followed was set by Taylor inside 150 seconds with his first goal on home soil.

After exchanging a couple of passes with Law, Bradford’s summer signing from Peterborough United took one more touch before unleashing an exocet missile of a shot from nearly 30 yards that gave Johnny Placide no chance in the Latics goal.

It was a quite exceptional strike, perhaps almost as sweet as the volleyed thunderbolt Paul Scholes – linked strongly with the Oldham vacancy over the past fortnight – had scored on this ground in Manchester United colours back in the early months of the new Millennium.

The Latics’ reply came on 24 minutes and, while it may have lacked the ‘wow’ factor of Taylor’s opener, it was still a goal worthy of levelling any game – not least because of the rather audacious step over by goalkeeper Placide that left Wyke wrong-footed in the visitors’ penalty area.

Dummigan then produced an incisive pass that allowed Eoin Doyle to scamper free before beating his Bradford namesake with a neat finish.

Like two heavyweight boxers going toe-to-toe in a world title fight, City and the Latics continued to exchange blows for the rest of the night.

For City, Romain Vincelot headed just wide from a corner, Taylor dragged a shot past the post when well placed and then Patrick fired over the crossbar.

At the other end, Davies went close with a header before his volley brought a smart save from Doyle.

Placide did brilliantly to cut out an Adam Chicksen cross as Wyke waited to pounce before saving from Dominic Poleon.

For Oldham, Queensy Menig wasted a gilt-edged opportunity when he could only shoot straight at Doyle.

Bradford City: Doyle; Hendrie, Thompson, Knight-Percival, Chicksen; Reeves, Vincelot (Dieng 79), Law’ Patrick (Poleon 63), Wyke, Taylor (Gilliead 63). Unused substitutes: Raeder, Kilgallon, McCartan, Hanson.

Oldham Athletic: Placide; Dummigan, Bryan, Clarke, Hunt; Byrne (Flynn 90), Gardner (Omrani 78), Fane, Nepomuceno (Menig 63); Davies; Doyle. Unused substitutes: Ruddy, Wilson, Gerrard, Banks.

Referee: C Sarginson (Staffordshire).