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York United Martin Nash

Nash Feels ‘Cheated’ By Refereeing In Heated Loss To Valour

By on September 11, 2023 0 2534 Views

The fireworks were on display at York Lions Stadium Friday night, and not just from the four goals seen in the match.

In what became a heated affair, Valour coasted to a 3-1 win over hosts York United in a game that saw referee Mathieu Souare hand out two red cards to home team players, one of which went to centre-back Noah Abatneh in the first half.

The decision to hand the 18-year-old a straight red card prompted much debate, with Nine Stripes head coach Martin Nash telling media after the match that not only did he feel cheated by the decision, but that he felt a lot of the match was decided from that contentious moment.

“I think the ref knew that he had a bad performance,” Nash declared after the match. “He had a big impact on the score of the game.”

Canada Soccer Referee Mathieu Souare
Photo Credit: John Jacques

Abatneh’s marching orders were a double-blow to a club in desperate need of domestic U-21 minutes, as beyond goalkeeper Adisa De Rosario, the defender was the only youngster in that category earning big minutes. A club spokesperson stated after the match that Abatneh’s red card would be appealed (he’s listed as out for two matches), though Molham Babouli’s sending off at the end of the game was much more straightforward.

The Syrian international’s ejection came when things were at a fever pitch for York United, with players even sarcastically applauding the referee. They’re well-familiar with Mathieu Souare by this point in the campaign, having been on the receiving end of 12 yellow cards through three matches this year.

Souare last refereed a match with York United in June, handing out nine cards in a heated 905 Derby, with five of them going to United players.

Canada Soccer Referee Mathieu Souare
Photo Credit: John Jacques

“Emotions were high – we know how passionate our guys are,” reflected Max Ferrari, who had started against Valour. “Obviously, it got crazy towards the end. At the final whistle, the guys were upset, but we’ve got to realize that we have games to play.”

Ferrari felt that the card handed to Abatneh was harsh, but came with the mindset that one can’t dwell on the moment – advice his teammate Molham would have done well to heed.

“The game got a bit chippy,” added opposition boss Phillip Dos Santos, who said that the red card issued to Noah Abatneh was deserved. “They have to get the three points, they’re in a race, so it got heated up at times, but I think we kept our cool and we were able to close the gates.

It wasn’t the start to a four-game homestand that York United had hoped for, as they now face tough visitors in Pacific FC, Cavalry FC, and Atletico Ottawa before closing out the season away to league newcomers Vancouver FC, who just pulled a big win over Ottawa.

“I think our guys lost our way a little bit with the way the game was going,” Nash added, also saying that a bad call from Souare saw them switch off ahead of their second conceded goal.

Canada Soccer Referee Mathieu Souare
Babouli’s dissent earns him a second yellow from Mathieu Souare. (Photo Credit: John Jacques)

“For a team who plays at home, we rarely get calls here,” he continued. “We go other places and other teams get calls at their place, but here it never seems to be in our favour. It rarely does. It’s like this is an away game for us when we play here.”

For what it’s worth, Souare has never shied back from delivering cards to players regardless of team, handing out an incredible 139 in 28 CPL matches – an average of five per game, not including second yellows. He’s also ejected thirteen players in league play since 2019, including one to Cedric Toussaint when he played for York last season. While the club appealed the decision, it was upheld by the CSDC.

While Nash – who got a yellow card himself during the match – will likely be fined for his criticism towards the referee, he must now look towards a string of tough matches that will need the Nine Stripes to collect points aplenty if they’re to crack a playoff spot. A big piece of this puzzle will be bringing their away form home, regardless of how calls go.

“It wasn’t our day in a lot of ways, so we’ve just got to regroup now and focus on the next one. It’s not going to get any easier, but we’re still in with a shot and we’ve got to pick up some more results,” concluded Nash.

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