A well-disciplined performance resulted in a deserved 3-1 win for Aberdeen against Rangers on Saturday – but how did referee Steven McLean and his team of officials perform at Ibrox?
We start off the Dons’ opening goal, which came from a corner.
In the build-up to the corner, Aberdeen were awarded a free-kick for a foul on influential captain Graeme Shinnie, who was clearly taken down by Jose Cifuentes after he nicked the ball off him.
I initially thought Aberdeen were lucky to get a corner from the resultant free-kick delivery, however, on review, the ball did skim off the head of Gers defender Connor Goldson – a good spot by the refereeing team.
McLean correct to wave away Miovski penalty shouts
After taking the lead via Stefan Gartenmann, Aberdeen then had a penalty claim before the end of the first half.
Reds striker Bojan Miovski went down in the box after a nudge from Rangers full-back Ridvan Yilmaz.
But, for me, there wasn’t enough in it for a penalty to be awarded.
I think Miovski felt the contact and decided to chance his arm by going down, but McLean was right to wave the appeals away.
Two stick-on bookings for former Don Wright
Former Aberdeen player Scott Wright would come on at half-time looking to make a positive impact with the home team trailing. Unfortunately for Rangers, he would ultimately see red.
His first booking came for a challenge on the Dons’ Jack MacKenzie.
At the time I thought it was a stick-on booking. But, having seen a replay of the challenge, some might say he won the ball with his right boot.
However, he also clearly went straight through MacKenzie to get there, and a yellow card was absolutely the correct decision.
Shortly after Jamie McGrath made it 2-0 Aberdeen, things would go from bad to worse for Rangers, when the aforementioned Wright received his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
For the second incident, the ball was there to be won, but Wright knew the risk he was taking flying into a challenge with Gartenmann if he didn’t get there first.
For me, it was a clear yellow. He caught the man late. If you don’t win the ball and catch your man late, nine times out of 10 you are getting booked.
No foul on Roos for Rangers’ goal
Rangers would subsequently manage a goal back through Abdallah Sima, but was Kelle Roos fouled as he jumped to intercept the ball?
For me, absolutely not.
Goalkeepers are normally incredibly well-protected when challenging for the ball with outfield players.
But there wasn’t enough contact on the Dutchman for a free-kick to be awarded – and a VAR check confirmed this.
In my opinion, Roos went up to win the ball and simply fluffed his lines.
Barisic clutching at straws with foul appeals for Reds’ third
The Dons restored their two-goal advantage through MacKenzie – the left-back putting the ball into the back of the net via the crossbar to seal the three points and send the travelling away support wild.
Croatian international Borna Barisic claimed for what would have been a very soft foul from the Reds’ Nicky Devlin in the build-up, but the Rangers player went down far too easily for me. He was clearly looking for the foul after getting on the wrong side of his man and the ball.
A fairly long VAR check would follow – in the ground it said the check was for offside, but there certainly didn’t appear to be an obvious offside.
Ultimately, VAR would back the on-field officials and award the goal.
Overall, I thought McLean had a very good game at Ibrox on Saturday.
Normally when you go to Govan you expect to get most of the decisions given against the away team.
However, I think the referee was fair and consistent. He was keeping it simple and keeping control of the game.
I think he got every major decision correct.
Finlay Elder was a registered referee for six years and a category 5 official from 2019, with experience in the Highland League, Juniors and Club Academy.