BY YANN TEAR
Mark Warburton says VAR cannot come soon enough in the Championship, after a key penalty decision took the game away from QPR in Monday night’s derby with Brentford.
The Rangers boss was furious with ref Andy Woolmer for gifting the Bees their second goal soon after his side had battled back to wipe out a first half deficit through Grant Hall.
The spot-kick award looked iffy in real time, but replays clearly showed Said Benrahma diving to the floor as Josh Scowen pulled out of a tackle. Benrahma himself rubbed it in by firing into the top corner to make it 2-1 to the visitors on the hour.
Their overall superiority once again reasserted, the Bees went on to secure all three points with a second Ollie Watkins goal for the night, deep into injury time.
But Warburton feels his side could have gone on to win it, having worked so hard to battle back after the break.
“It was lost on a big decision. Let’s be clear,” said the Rangers boss. “I’m frustrated beyond belief to lose or see a game change in that manner over that type of call.
“I thought first half we deserved to go 1-0 down. We had to step up the tempo and move the ball better, and in the second half we did. We got the equaliser and were in the ascendancy and I was really confident at that point. Then that decision changes everything.
“You have to be really, really sure in a derby or any game if you’re going to give a call like that – make sure you’re 100 per cent – and I think you’ve seen the same
replays that I’ve seen and I’ll let you describe it because I might get fined if I describe it appropriately.
“To get to one all, with the crowd behind you – we were in good shape and we were moving the ball really well. Playing with that intensity and quality in the second half, I thought we looked good and everything has changed on a really tight call.
“We would go second on winning tonight’s game or stay in the top six with a point. It’s a big decision for us.”
Expanding on the flashpoint in the match, Warburton said: “Josh got warned at the end of the first half for what I thought was a really good tackle.
“You see Josh go in to make the challenge but then he pulls his left foot back and puts his hands up and the guy’s already in the air.
“If people are going to get rewards they are going to keep doing that and tonight we paid the price.
“Players will do what they have to do to get the rewards. They’re professional athletes. At the moment, that player there will naturally do it again. I don’t blame him, I would if I got a reward.
“We’ve got to find a way [around it]. Young players are seeing that as an acceptable part of our game. I don’t think it is.
“I think 100 per cent VAR overturns that, in my humble opinion. But we haven’t got that. We can’t refer to it and the fact is it’s not in the Championship as yet, so we can’t do anything about that aspect. VAR’s in the Premier League and I think it’s only a matter of time – and money – until it’s in the Championship.
“At the moment there are obviously problems with VAR and questionable decisions being made, you’re going to have teething problems, but they’ll be eradicated over time and it will naturally be in the Championship.”
Warburton may have a point about the penalty having a huge bearing on the outcome, but Thomas Frank’s Brentford were the better side overall. Slicker on the ball and sharper on the break.
Liam Kelly had to make several fine saves to keep the Bees at bay, but in Watkins they had a stand-out player, who now has 10 goals for the campaign.
Rangers started the game knowing they would go second in the table with a win, but it was the Bees who looked to carry the real stamp of promotion contenders.
A bright spot for Rangers was another thrilling contribution from Ebe Eze whose skills and pace troubled otherwise dominant opponents. He is one of the big plus points of the season so far.
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