Referee Keith Stroud has suffered an embarrassing setback following Newcastle United blunder

Refereeing high-intensity football matches where there is so much at stake is a gruelling job, no matter how experienced the official.

Each decision is analysed, scrutinised and, often, criticised by one set of fans or the other.

There are not too many other jobs on the planet where concentration is so vital in order for the job to be done successfully.

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But refereeing is one of them, and on Wednesday night referee Keith Stroud clearly had a serious lapse of concentration which left him feeling the wrath of Newcastle United’s players and fans.

The Magpies knew they had a great chance to go back to the top of the Championship in their home game against lowly Burton Albion, with a game in hand against promotional rivals Brighton who played a day earlier.

It was the perfect chance for Rafael Benitez’s men to reclaim their place at the top of the table going into the closing weeks of the season, but that all could have been undone by one very bizarre decision by Stroud following Matt Richie’s penalty.

Newcastle’s Dwight Gayle was penalised for encroaching the area after Ritchie converted their first-half penalty, but rather than requiring for the spot kick to be taken again, Stroud instead awarded a free-kick.

However, the rules state an indirect free-kick is only awarded if the attacking player encroaches the area and the penalty is missed.

Stroud distraught by wrong decision

Benitez was left angered on the touchline, but Stroud was understood to have been left “distraught” by his sizeable error that could so easily have cost the Magpies a huge result.

“In the Championship game between Newcastle United and Burton Albion, referee Keith Stroud awarded Newcastle a penalty in the 29th minute,” a statement from PGMOL said.

“As Matt Ritchie took the kick, Dwight Gayle encroached in the penalty area. An indirect free-kick was awarded to Burton but the Laws of the Game state that the penalty kick should have been retaken.

“Unfortunately, the referee has misapplied the law. Keith and his team are understandably upset at the lapse in concentration and apologise for the mistake.”

However, the nightmare doesn’t end there for Stroud, who, per The Guardian, has been stripped of his officiating duties for Gillingham’s home match against Millwall in League One – along with his three fellow officials.

Officials axed following penalty error

Stroud has been freed from his duties this weekend while PGMOL review Wednesday night’s penalty incident before deciding how long the 47-year-old will remain sidelined.

Fourth official Tony Harrington, who was due to referee the crunch League One fixture between Scunthorpe and Bolton has been relieved of his duties along with Matthew McGrath, while David Avent was due to be the linesman for Nottingham Forest v Huddersfield.

All officials, except from Stroud, were in conversation for four-and-a-half minutes following the decision, but no correction was suggested to Stroud who refused the expected retake of the spot kick.

It’s a low point for Stroud, who has previousy refereed in the Premier League, given the fact that he will not be handed charge of any game across England’s four professional divisions this weekend.

Luckily for Newcastle, though, the wrong decision didn’t cost them in the end as Ritchie had another chance in the second half and scored the Magpies’ winner to return the club to the top of the Championship.

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