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Bees Buzzing, But Did They Deserve To Win?

Ivan Toney's return has relighted a spark in Brentford's season as the Bees triumphed to a 3-2 victory over Nottingham Forest, however the win didn't come without the controversy.

It was the dream comeback for Toney who netted a superb free-kick and collected the Man of the Match award for his efforts to ease the pressure between Brentford and the drop zone. Whilst the win may have the Bees buzzing again, it is debatable to whether Toney's perfectly executed set piece should have stood as a legal finish. VAR has already taken the spotlight on numerous occasions this season and have yet again failed to present themselves as a positive contribution to football. Nottingham Forest fans have been arguing all week about the shamefulness VAR have portrayed to not even review Toney's goal; so why was the English striker's finish arguably not fair?

Outrage and controversy exploded on twitter feeds after Toney was seen visibly moving his ball to better his angle for the free shot on goal. Toney scored from a similar position last season against Forest and was able to beat Matt Turner- this time low into the bottom right corner. The strike was fantastic but was the improved angle beneficial to Toney's placement?

The FA law book states, "The ball must be stationary and the kicker must not touch the ball again until it has touched another player." "The ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves." By law of the game Toney's manoeuvring and replacement of the football should have been penalized and disallowed. It is understandable to why Forest fans are bemused with the lack of involvement on the behalf of VAR, who didn't bother to intervene and alert Referee Darren England to this behaviour.

This image via SPORTbible Twitter feed relays the exact moment where visually Toney can be seen collecting some vanishing foam on his hand before increasing the size of the semi-circle in which the ball should be placed. On a live video it appears that Toney moves the ball not once but twice, once further to the right of the original spray put down by Darren England and then twice closer to the edge of the 18-yard box when Toney himself made the semi-circle bigger.

Forest manager Nuno Espirito Santo quoted in his post-match interview "There was a ball displacement, everyone saw it." Ultimately Toney's actions have costed Nottingham Forest a point and with financial fair play allegations to face, Forest's season could be taken an unfortunate turn for the worse.

However, in contrast to fans proclaiming Toney to be a cheat, there could also be an argument in his defence that he was just intelligent.

Football is a game of moments and perhaps a moment like this is something goalkeeper Matt Turner should have been aware of. As a goalkeeper Turner's responsibility is to position the wall where he will likely believe it will have an effect. Before the free kick was taken Turner seemed adamant that he was okay with where the wall was placed. Clearly, as the images convey, the wall was setup awfully and this is where Turner should take some accountability. Defensively Turner should have been more alert to space on the right-hand side and moved the wall across to make the shot harder for Toney.

Darren England was happy that there was no infringement of play and this raises another discussion in football. Fans will argue it was not acceptable for Toney to move the ball and take advantage of a goal scoring situation, where both Forest players and supposedly the officials were not switched on. If this isn't acceptable from Toney, then why are players getting away with not taking corners behind the regulated line, and additionally why are players getting away with not fully placing the ball on the penalty spot so that the spot is properly covered. Whilst penalties and corners share minimal relation to free kicks, the way players gain advantages (i.e. earning an extra yard, improving the lie of the ball or improving an angle) is no different to what Toney has done here to support his side into earning three points.

It is evident that players are constantly looking for that advantage, and perhaps the media is only speculating over Toney's actions now because of everything else he has been through. It can be argued either way to whether Toney is innocent or guilty of cheating. Forest's formal complaint to the PGMOL hasn't escalated anywhere, so this emphasises how the league and officials lack interest in any cases like this. The rule of moving a stationary football is maybe a law that should be debated more however the PGMOL'S reluctance to pursue further investigation into this case can conclude Toney's forward thinking is a part of the game other players should be looking to exploit more if there are no consequences to come off it.

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