Nick Walsh ref watch as Rangers and Motherwell whistler has 3 big calls put under the microscope

We’re into the final stretch of Scottish Premiership games – and there are still plenty of incidents to talk about.

Rangers traveled to Fir Park looking to keep the pressure up on league leaders Celtic, while Motherwell were hoping to build momentum towards a European spot.

It would be Gio van Bronckhorst’s men who took the points back to Ibrox, but not without plenty of talking points.

A red card to Leon Balogun and a penalty converted by James Tavernier were among the key incidents in Lanarkshire.

But did the man in the middle get it right?

RecordSport takes a look at the big calls made by referee Nick Walsh at Fir Park.

Leon Balogun on Dean Cornelius

The Rangers defender was given his marching orders in the first half for a heavy challenge on Motherwell’s Dean Cornelius.

The Nigerian went in high and late and the referee had little hesitation in flashing a red card to Balogun.

Leon Balogun sees red after a challenge on Motherwell’s Dean Cornelius.

The reckless challenge left Gio van Bronckhorst’s men with a mountain to climb in the second half, but the likes of Ally McCoist on Sky Sports co-comms and Kris Boyd on punditry duties quickly agreed the defender should have been sent for an early bath.

IFAB rules dictate that a red card should be shown there is a: “A tackle or challenge that endangers the safety of an opponent or uses excessive force or brutality” and this “must be sanctioned as serious foul play.”

Verdict: Red card for serious foul play, correct decision

Juhani Ojala on Scott Wright

The Motherwell defender went into the book in the first half and just minutes after Balogun’s dismissal for a lunge on Scott Wright.

Ojala slides in on the Rangers goalscorer as his left leg comes in to attempt to take the ball away from Wright’s feet.

Motherwell defender Juhani Ojala slides in on Rangers winger Scott Wright

His two feet appear to be off the ground as he comes in, and it could be thrown into the same category of challenge that saw Leon Balogun sent off minutes before.

While he doesn’t come in over the ball like Balogun, his high feet could have seen the tackle considered as serious foul play by Walsh.

In the end, I have opted to book the Motherwell man.

Verdict: Red card for serious foul play, incorrect decision

Bevis Mugabi on Fashion Sakala

Walsh made another big call on the hour mark when he awarded Rangers a penalty.

Fashion Sakala burst past Bevis Mugabi into the area and it initially looked like the Ugandan had won the ball from the Zambian international.

However, replays showed that the Motherwell man had tripped the pacy forward as he attempted the last-ditch tackle.

Following IFAB rules a player is booked rather than sent off “if the offender is cautioned if the offense was an attempt to play the ball; in all other circumstances (eg holding, pulling, pushing, no possibility to play the ball etc.) the offending player must be sent off.”

Verdict: Penalty and a yellow card, correct decision

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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