Rhys Williams should not have been sent off after VAR intervention

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The Victory centre-half was given yellow for a last-ditch challenge, before the VAR intervention helped upgrade it to red. Was it the right call?

Debate has raged since Melbourne Victory defender Rhys Williams was sent off after VAR intervention following the awarding of a yellow card for a last-ditch tackle on Wellington Phoenix's Andrija Kaluderovic.

The challenge, in the eighth minute, left Victory down to 10 men for more than 80 minutes and completely changed the complexion of the game - a match the Phoenix eventually won 2-1 after going a goal behind.

Let's be clear on one thing first - the VAR did not send off Williams. The decision to upgrade to a red card was made by referee Matthew Conger - as it's his final call.

The VAR in its current form was right to intervene and flag the situation to Conger as the decision was potentially match-changing for both teams.

A red card in this situation is awarded for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity to the attacker.

But what must be noted is Conger originally gave the offence a yellow card - and the only reason for that is he deemed a Victory defender, namely Dino Djulbic, to be close enough to possibly impact the play.

Once Williams brings down Kaluderovic, there must be no doubt the Serbian striker was going to have a clear goalscoring opportunity. Emphasis on the 'clear'.

It doesn't matter if it's Kaluderovic or Lionel Messi - if there was a possibility that Djulbic was able to affect the play, then a yellow card to Williams is the right decision.

Looking at the vision and stills, Djulbic is trailing and losing ground on Kaluderovic until the Phoenix player is forced to control the bouncing ball and Williams begins to apply pressure.

But once Williams initiates body contact, which wasn't a foul, Kaluderovic slightly slows up to control the bouncing ball, bringing Djlubic back into the equation.

When Kaluderovic is hacked down, Djulbic is only a few yards away and possibly able to make a challenge if Williams doesn't commit the foul.

Rhys Williams VAR

At the end of the day, you can almost disregard any interpretation of the incident and ask, 'was the initial yellow card decision made by Conger an obvious, clear error upon reviewing the challenge?'

The answer is no. My waffle in this piece and the debate that has raged since proves this.

Conger has only refereed 17 A-League matches in his career and Wednesday night was only his third game of the season - which has spanned 15 rounds.

Melbourne Victory and Kevin Muscat have every right to feel aggrieved because an inexperienced and under pressure referee has likely cost them a result.

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