Referee criticized for allowing beach ball goal
Two former Premier League match officials criticized referee Mike Jones on Sunday for allowing a goal that deflected in off a beach ball in Sunderland's 1-0 victory over Liverpool. Dermot Gallagher, a topflight referee between 1992 and 2007, said that Darren Bent's fifth-minute goal at Sunderland on Saturday should have been disallowed with play being restarted by a "drop ball." "It was such a glaring error. Everybody knows that when something encroaches on to the pitch the game stops," he said on Sunday. "It's an error that no one can fathom because it goes down to grass-roots level in the laws of the game. For it to happen in a high-profile game at this level is unbelievable. Any one of the four (officials) could have stepped in." Jeff Winter, whose final game as a referee was the 2004 FA Cup final between Manchester United and Millwall, said this mistake is even worse than officials not seeing whether the ball has crossed the goal line. "I try to defend referees wherever possible, having been there and knowing the problems they face," Winter said. "Everybody's having a laugh and a joke about it, but this is far more serious in terms of the laws of the game than when the referee doesn't see the ball go over the goal line." While the result will stand with Liverpool sliding to eighth after a fourth loss in nine games, the Professional Games Match Officials could drop Jones from Premier League games in the next few weeks if they agree that he made a serious mistake.