The Forest game is now history, the 3rd defeat in less than a week. The controversy lives on. So why was the Shelvey ban rescinded? 

The incident itself lasted a mere couple of seconds. Contact was made between Shelvey and Lansbury. The Newcastle player appeared to kick out. Lansbury might have appeared to have been hurt. Shelvey’s reputation as a personality may have affected the decision. 

At the time, both TV pundits and probably the majority of supporters saw a foot flick out, assumed petulance and thought the lad had brought it upon himself. 

Retrospectively, a frame by frame analysis tells a different story. 

Starting with how the decision was made, the award of a penalty was made by the referee’s assistant, positioned more or less level with play. As can be seen, his view was obscured by both a Forest attacker and Newcastle defender.

 

The first frame also shows Lansbury taking Shelvey from behind, his right foot behind Shelvey’s knee. The ball was on the goal side of both players, basically, this is a foul on Shelvey. 

The 2nd frame shows Lansbury’s left leg lifting between those of Shelvey, effectively a scissor motion. 


It is inevitable that Shelvey will roll to his right, that leg being the first to give way, as can be seen in frame 3.

 

As Shelvey tumbled, he can be seen looking at the ground NOT at the player as his foot made contact in the area of Lansbury’s right hip. 


At this point his right leg extended, still with his eyes to the floor. This is the natural reaction when falling sideways to the ground. 

After the incident, Lansbury can be seen looking in the direction of the referee, play moving outside the penalty area and out of defence.

 

His next reaction is to turn and hold his head in mock agony.

 

Newcastle United were right to appeal the decision. For justice to be done, there was a case to be made that the referee, or in this case his assistant Liam Cooper, had made a clear mistake, on this occasion without a clear view. A retrospective view suggests that there were a few clear mistakes. 

The first foul was on Shelvey so a penalty should not have been awarded, even if Shelvey had intentionally lashed out. There was a catalogue of mistakes, not just with this incident but throughout the match. 

In the 31st minute, Clark was blocked, his shirt pulled and wrestled to the ground by Mills when in the Forest penalty box. Also in the Forest box during the 37th minute, Clark’s goal was disallowed for rather less holding on Cash. Within 2 minutes, Kasami brought his arm in to block a cross. Forest’s equaliser included a swipe at the ball from Assombalonga, clearly interfering with play.

 

In between, perhaps the biggest game changing moment was when reducing Newcastle to 9 men. Again, Lansbury had bought the penalty, a flawed touch saw him almost tripping, his arms outstretched in a fall to the ground before the gentlest of touches from the retreating defender. 

Dummett’s sending off was a clear mistake. Even if he had denied a goal scoring opportunity, the triple punishment has been withdrawn for this season. At worst, it should have been a penalty and a yellow.

The referee had what can be euphemistically described as a stinker. His sanction is to lose a solitary match fee. 

Lansbury’s antics were hardly surprising. St James’ Park witnessed his behaviour in contributing to Kevin Nolan’s first yellow almost exactly 7 years earlier, also in the Championship against Watford, a team that contained 10 honest players. 

He is a player of undoubted talent, evidenced by his hat trick against Barnsley. However, QPR’s Karl Henry’s description of Lansbury as a “con artist” will resonate widely. One wonders how professional colleagues would react to being in the same squad, were he to build on his youth caps at senior level. 

Despite everything, the Newcastle players can hold their heads high in a valiant effort. Only a poorly performing referee and a thespian denied them a win. In the context of the season, this will not stand in the way of Newcastle’s promotion or Forest’s mid table finish.