Date: 4th September 2010 at 7:03pm
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David Coote was taking charge of his second football league fixture, and it showed.

Both sets of fans had reason to find the behaviour of the Nottinghamshire referee perplexing.

At the outset he looked to impose his authority on the game by issuing a yellow card to Marc Richards after he clattered into Jon McLaughlin. But it wasn’t until the 39th minute that Justin Richards joined him in the book for a Maradonnaesque handball.

In the intervening 30 minutes Port Vale had taken the lead in circumstances that had a lot to do with the referee and hands. A ball had come into the Bradford City area where it was clearly handled. Instead of a Bradford City freekick a corner to Port Vale was awarded.

Shane Duff remonstrated with the referee and his head was clearly not focused on defending the corner or organising his defence. I don’t think he was marking Marc Richards with one suggestion being that Lewis Hunt had completely failed to track his man.

So, a freekick to us became a corner to them and being a goal down. Almost immediately Coote antagonised the visiting fans when Robbie Threlfall hauled down Gary Roberts on the edge of the box (it was inside) and awarded a free kick rather than a penalty.

For me the decision offset the goal but unfortunately they weren’t the only mistakes Coote made. He was curious in his awarding of possession when it went out but that was nothing compared to his application of handball for which he seemed to have a total blindspot. I lost count of the number of times that we felt aggrieved that he didn’t blow his whistle.

However, while his wasn’t an amazing performance it certainly wasn’t the worse that we’ve seen. I uncharitably suggested that he ought to end up back in the Conference but I don’t think that was necessarily fair.

There were few contentious decisons for the linesmen to deal with as neither team really spent much time on the shoulder of the defence. He was clearly young and inexperienced but he tried to let the game flow. With a bit more awareness and an eye for the details he might actually be a pretty good referee.