Clever play or downright cheating? I guess if you were of a Preston North End persuasion, then you would be spitting venom in the direction of Kyle Edwards on Monday night.
The West Bromwich Albion forward went to ground in close proximity of PNE No.1 Declan Rudd in the final seconds of the Championship clash at Deepdale.
With a decision or not to make, referee Oliver Langford put his whistle to his mouth, blew and then pointed to the spot.
It gave Baggies’ striker Charlie Austin the chance to secure the three points for the visitors – one he didn’t waste as he sent Rudd the wrong way.
I am sure the visiting supporters did not care as Albion returned to the top of the Championship, but television replays of the penalty incident would appear to indicate the contact between Edwards and Rudd was minimal, if there was any at all.
So let’s go back to my original question. Was Edwards’ actions clever play or downright cheating?
It goes without saying what PNE supporters think but I imagine Albion supporters would say the former – until they are on the receiving end of a similar scenario. Where was the video assistant referee when you need it? Of course VAR is only used for Premier League fixtures only.
It was interesting that a couple of days earlier a similar incident occurred at the Kingpower Stadium when Leicester City entertained Everton.
Ben Chilwell was eventually booked for diving after a challenge from Mason Holgate. The Foxes were initially awarded a penalty which was then overturned after a check on the video.
Diving in the game is nothing new – certainly it’s been prevalent pretty much as far back as I can remember, although it began to infiltrate the English game in the 1990s probably due to the influx of more foreign talent.
I think what is more apparent is the cunning and subtlety players have when they go to ground these days.
I remember at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico when players used to roll around several times after a challenge.
I still chuckle when I recall the bare-faced cheek of the Brazil left-back Branco when he rolled around like he had been shot after a coming together with France goalkeeper Joel Bats during a quarter-final clash in Guadalajara.
As soon as the Brazilian saw the referee point to the penalty spot, he immediately sat up with his arms aloft, grinning from ear to ear.
And who could forget the antics of German Jurgen Klinsmann in the World Cup final four years later in earning the winning penalty against Argentina?
I think in fairness to the divers back in those days, they were given far less protection by referees and play-acting was used to emphasise some of the dangerous and cynical tackles which they were on the receiving end of.
That’s not the case these days as tackling which endangers an opponent is rightly being stamped out with red cards being dished out by officials.
But I think things need to be balanced up and anyone guilty of simulation should also be sent for an early bath.