Paul Ifill: I've never seen referee so influential


Thinking back over my 17-year career I'm struggling to remember a referee having as much influence on a result as Ben Williams did in Sunday's 2-2 draw with Melbourne Heart.

The fact that FFA director of referees Ben Wilson admitted Williams made two key blunders is scant consolation for the Phoenix boys after they gave everything trying to gain three points for our playoff push.

First, the hand ball.

Tyler Boyd's shot was definitely going in and was handled on the line by Patrick Kisnorbo.

On replay it seems Williams had a clear view and that he failed to act accordingly is very bizarre.

I believe if Kisnorbo had been sent off and we scored the penalty there would have been no way back for the Heart.

But things went from bad to worse and we were down to 10 men after Ben Sigmund received two yellow cards in five minutes.

I'm not sure Siggy made much contact in his first challenge and even if he did, David Williams' touch was taking him away from goal.

The second challenge, on Harry Kewell, was mistimed rather than malicious and a final warning would have been sufficient.

The Heart then equalised in the second half after some creative play/refereeing from Kewell and Williams.

Kewell used all his experience to sway the referees' decision.

I wouldn't go as far as to call it a dive, but Harry's a big lad and went down very easily under a pretty timid challenge from Manny Muscat.

The way Williams was officiating, Harry probably believed that by going down, he would have a very good chance of being awarded a penalty.

But Ernie Merrick and the team must focus on the task ahead against the Jets in Newcastle tonight.

With the league so tight and just four games to play, we all realise that a loss could be critical.

Having been at Newtown Park most of the week, I know the boys have prepared really well and are very confident of getting the job done.

With Siggy out, Michael Boxall is set to switch to centre back and I'm sure he will stand up and be counted.

This is important as Emile Heskey and Adam Taggart are a formidable strike partnership.

Although Heskey has struggled for goals of late, he is an excellent foil for the clinical, young Socceroos hopeful.


When dealing with long-term injuries, it's important to take a break every now and then as the rehab can be very physically and mentally demanding.

So with the club's blessing last weekend, I took a trip to Waiheke Island with my fiancee Elle and some good friends to view wedding venues.

But on arrival, Cyclone Lusi decided to grace us with its presence, which meant I had to try hard to imagine what it would look like on a sunny day. I still haven't worked out why I was invited as Elle has every last detail planned.

But she seemed happy so I must have nodded and smiled at all the right times.

For the record it looks like a Waiheke wedding in May next year - football permitting of course

Fairfax Media