Unhappy New Year! Potters left ringing their hands at referee Michael Oliver over Smalling handball

And the winner of the first botched referee call of 2015 goes to….Michael Oliver!

It didn’t take too long for Oliver to come up with the year’s first howler after refusing to award Stoke City a sure penalty kick in their 1-1 tie with Manchester United in the New Years Day Premier League curtain raiser.

Red Devils defender Chris Smalling had his arm raised and clearly handled an on-target header by Stoke’s Peter Crouch in the 65th minute.

Smalling had clearly blocked the ball from going into the goal with his raised arm but Oliver and his assistants refused to award the spot kick.

The bewildering decision was rightly slammed by match commentators and on social media.

After the match Crouch insisted Smalling was clearly guilty of a handball.

“It was a yard ahead of me, my header was on target,” Crouch told the Daily Mail. Smalling had his hands up for me, it was a definite penalty.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes also hit out at Oliver after the match.

“It was a goal bound header, he lost his marker, it is clear movement to bat the ball down away from the goal,” said Hughes. The referee is only a few yards away from it and I don’t know why he didn’t give it.”

The draw helped third-place Manchester United remain undefeated after ten games while Stoke moved into 10th position after settling for just one point.

No doubt Oliver will not be the only one to mess up in the coming year but will be gaining more votes in our poll for worst BPL referee after his glaring oversight:

Who is the worst referee in the English Premier League?

  • Paul Tierney (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Craig Pawson (1%, 8 Votes)
  • Roger East (1%, 8 Votes)
  • Robert Madley (1%, 10 Votes)
  • Lee Probert (2%, 15 Votes)
  • Jon Moss (2%, 22 Votes)
  • Chris Foy (3%, 27 Votes)
  • Lee Mason (3%, 28 Votes)
  • Neil Swarbrick (3%, 30 Votes)
  • Andre Marriner (3%, 30 Votes)
  • Mike Dean (3%, 31 Votes)
  • Phil Dowd (4%, 39 Votes)
  • Michael Oliver (4%, 41 Votes)
  • Mark Clattenburg (5%, 45 Votes)
  • Mike Jones (6%, 54 Votes)
  • Anthony Taylor (6%, 56 Votes)
  • Martin Atkinson (17%, 162 Votes)
  • Kevin Friend (34%, 318 Votes)

Total Voters: 927

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