Derby County caused a minor upset on Sunday afternoon as they knocked Premier League side Crystal Palace out of the FA Cup, but the match may be remembered more as a crucial moment of VAR in England.
Chris Martin scored the only goal of the afternoon on the 32nd minute when he steered home a teasing cross from Jayden Bogle.
The flashpoint occurred shortly after the hour mark when Luka Milivojevic and Tom Huddlestone started having a tussle in midfield and both players were booked by referee, Michael Oliver. Just as soon as play was about to get back underway, there was an announcement that a VAR check was taking place for a possible red card incident.
The check was taking a long time and fans were beginning to get restless and frustrated . Then the unusual moment happened, as Oliver blew his whistle and went over to look at the pitch-side monitor and decided that Milivojevic should be sent off for violent conduct.
Many(including myself) will praise Michael Oliver for going to check the monitor. He is not officially the first person to do so as Craig Pawson checked it during West Brom’s 3-2 win against Liverpool in 2018, but it is the first time it’s happened since VAR was formally introduced at the start of this season.
Most of the hype coming into the game was about Wayne Rooney, but it was young Brandon Pierrick who was the brightest player in the early exchanges. The 18-year-old had the first shot at goal of the afternoon as he brushed aside Craig Forsyth and fired an effort at goal which was saved at the second attempt by Kelle Roos.
After a scrappy half an hour, the deadlock was broken on the 32nd minute as Derby took the lead when a cross towards the back post from Jayden Bogle was turned home by Chris Martin from close-range to put the Rams ahead.
The Eagles injury crisis continued as Max Meyer limped off injured just before half time and was replaced by James McArthur.
All in, it was a very poor first half of football with both teams having very little goalmouth action, but it was Derby who were ahead.
Pierrick was in amongst the action early in the second half as he set up James McCarthy, whose effort was palmed away by Roos.
Derby missed a glorious chance to double their lead when Tom Lawrence’s cross found Bogle in acres of space at the back-post, but he headed down and wide of Wayne Hennessy’s goal.
Moments later Crystal Palace were reduced to 10 men as Milivojevic and Huddlestone were squaring up in the middle of the park. Referee Michael Oliver dished our two yellow cards, before deciding to look at the pitch-side monitor and overturn his original decision and send the Palace captain off for violent conduct.
The Championship side had one final opportunity to put the tie to bed when Wayne Rooney led the Rams counter-attack. He played it to Martin, who then switched it to Martyn Waghorn and his effort came back off the inside of the post.
Full Time- Crystal Palace 0-1 Derby County
Crystal Palace XI
Hennessey, Kelly, Kouyate, Cahill, Riedewald(76), Pierrick(73), McCarthy, Milivojevic, Meyer(39), Ayew, Wickham
Subs- Henderson, Tomkins(73), Woods(76), McGregor, McArthur(39), Kirby, Daly
Derby County XI
Roos, Bogle, Davies, Forsyth, Malone, Rooney, Huddlestone(75), Whittaker(72), Sibley(90), Lawrence, Martin
Subs- Ravas, Wisdom, Knight, Bird(75), Holmes(72), Jozefzoon, Waghorn(90)
Referee- Michael Oliver
Assistants- Simon Bennett & Sam Lewis
Fourth official- Antony Coggins
VAR- David Coote
Attendance- 15,507 ( No Confirmed Number- Photo Attached Below)
Yellow Cards- Huddlestone(64), Malone(90)
Red Cards- Milivojevic(64)