Wheeldon Jr. Slams Playoff Refereeing: ‘It Was Bull****’
The frenetic second half of last night’s match between Forge and Cavalry was great for the neutral, with viewers watch two ten-man teams duke it out in an emotional rivalry playoff classic that ended with Forge securing passage to its fourth straight CPL Final.
Referee Yusri Rudolf handed a red card to apiece for Forge and Cavalry in the first half, choices that obviously had a large impact on the rest of the game. Following his side’s heartbreaking 2-1 defeat, Cavalry head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. didn’t shy away from his criticisms – fines be damned – on how the officiating was handled in the playoff bout.
“I don’t think either [cards] are red. I’ve only seen them briefly. I think it ruined the game, to be honest. I would like to be sat here talking about the game, but every time in these knockout games it seems to be about things others than the players,” he told reporters followed the match.
The Cavalry boss was steadfast in praising his squad for fighting until the final whistle, with a late goal from Myer Bevan putting them in contention for a possible comeback as the clock wound down.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the way they handled themselves when things are thrown at them that they can’t control, but I’m not gonna sit here and accept it because I think it was bull***, some of the stuff that went out there out of our hands.”
“The players that Bobby’s got are a terrific group of players. Very well coached. They’re one of the best teams in this country in the way they play. And we’re not far off them. Yet, we’re always talking about these decisions. Now I’m sure questions will come in about me and my coaching, but there are others out there that have influenced the outcome of this game, and poor David Norman now has been sent off twice by the same official. Twice.”
Tommy’s Calgary-based has been disciplined the most out of any team this year, collecting their 79th yellow card of the season last night. That’s an average of 2.6 per game, which is actually down from the 4.3 average his team had when he said they’ve got to fix their own discipline issues a few months ago.
Tommy Wheeldon Jr. stated that while the league doesn’t deploy VAR – video assistant refereeing – he believes a lot of things would have been changed in the match had video review been available.
Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis also touched on the lack of consistency when asked about Becker’s straight red for a high boot on Elijah Adekugbe, which now sees the Forge captain suspended for the final.
“I think it’s a little harsh, especially as at that point the referee had let a lot of things go. There are some obvious yellows that we’ve seen throughout the season that he wasn’t calling, so I thought okay, this is a game where he’s going to allow a few things to go in a playoff game. So it’s a little bit surprising to see that red card go out so easily at that point.”
With the match now done and dusted, all that remains to be seen is whether Forge or Atletico Ottawa will hoist the North Star Shield on Sunday.