Video game farce fails to prevent Sheffield United from pointing the way

Blades hero: Sheffield United's George Baldock  blocks from Tottenham Hotspur's Giovani Lo Celso.
Blades hero: Sheffield United's George Baldock blocks from Tottenham Hotspur's Giovani Lo Celso.
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Sheffield United’s players were in the dark as VAR deliberated over what they thought was an equaliser at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

READ MORE - Chris Wilder on VAR controversy

But when it was George Baldock’s turn to sweat on a decision, referee Graham Scott helped put his mind at rest.

As so often this season, the video assistant referee system was the talking point from a Premier League game, rather than the performance which earned the Blades a 1-1 draw and moved them above Arsenal into fifth place on Saturday night.

It could have been more, with John Lundstram hitting the crossbar in the first half and David McGoldrick’s ‘goal’ chalked off after nearly four minutes of studying television replays concluded Lundstram had been millimetres offside in the build-up. It would have been McGoldrick’s first goal this season.

“I’m going to sit on the fence a little bit,” said wing-back Baldock. “VAR has its pros and cons and Saturday was bitterly disappointing. The margin, it’s just a different sized boot, isn’t it?

“It’s so disappointing to have that elation taken away from you. I was so disappointed for David McGoldrick because he doesn’t get the plaudits he deserves. That goal would have been thoroughly deserved so for it to be chalked off was disappointing.

“To wait that long (for a decision) isn’t the best but it is what it is. As players, we knew what we were coming into. We think we know the rules so we’ve just got to get on board and hopefully the way it plays out we get decisions (in our favour) in the future.

“For a split second, I saw how close it was on the big screen and I thought, ‘Wow, I can’t believe that!’ That was at the end of (the VAR review).

“Until then I’m just stood there praying, thinking, ‘Please, White Hart Lane, 1-0 down, we deserve a goal’.

“But we got a point in the end. We’ll take that and move on and, hopefully, chip away and get some more points.”

Manager Chris Wilder spoke afterwards about the “confusion” over how far back the VAR can go in looking at a goal.

“In this division, they’ve been pretty good with handballs,” said Baldock. “I’ve seen a few in Europe where I’ve thought, ‘That’s harsh!’

“The offsides... I just don’t know any more. If you’re playing on the last man as a striker and you’ve got bigger feet than him, does that mean you’re offside?”

Baldock had a nervous wait himself when VAR Jon Moss checked his 78th-minute effort which went into the net without Chris Basham being able to get a touch. It was allowed to stand, cancelling out Son Heung-min’s 58th-minute opener.

When asked if he had meant it to be a shot or a cross, Baldock called it: “a position of maximum opportunity, I think!

“I’m just grateful I put it in that area and got a goal no-one can take away from me.”

He added: “When I scored my goal, the ref’s gone to say they’re checking and I’ve said, ‘Do not take this away from me! But he’s looked at me and gone, ‘Definitely a goal!’

“Until that whistle’s blown and he’s pointing to the centre circle, you don’t know. You’re out there thinking, ‘Oh come on!’

“Initially, I thought it was a goal, of course it was. Then, when they’ve checked once, I thought, ‘Still a goal’. When he’s checked twice and kept checking, checking, checking I thought, ‘It must be offside.’

“I was thinking, ‘Come on, six years ago I was playing in the Conference and you’re going to take my first Premier League goal away from me!’ Luckily, the referee told me it was a goal.

“It could have been three points and maybe on another day it should have been but we’ll take it. We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves, it’s a great point.

“I suppose the talk afterwards will be about VAR but I went home revelling in getting a point at White Hart Lane, not the fact that VAR’s killed us. David McGoldrick might be different!”