SOME Reading supporters may still blame a raised flag for the loss of a point in their match against West Bromwich Albion last Wednesday.

The television after, however, seemed to show the assistant referee was correct with his signal.

This actual incident may sound simple, but one of the most difficult for assistant referees is defenders making their way upfield when the ball is kicked over them by one of their opponents to a teammate who is racing forward.

I took part in a session some while ago where we sat in front of monitors showing incidents of this type and had to declare whether the forward should be given offside.

The key factor is where the forward was when the ball was kicked.

Unlike normal cases, we didn’t have to wait until the forward played the ball before making our decision.

I have to admit I didn’t get them all right, but with the speed of play, I wasn’t the only one.

As an assistant your concentration is on the last line of the defenders and you are not always certain when the ball is kicked.

I had a classic example a short while ago.

A free-kick had been given halfway inside the offenders half.

Four of the attacking team were in the goalmouth waiting for the free-kick to be taken and one was offside.

With players of both teams moving constantly, I couldn’t dare take my eyes off the scene.

I relied on hearing the kick taken. Imagine if it had been in a stadium of a few thousand people.

Sometimes you may not even know who kicked the ball.

I had an example only last week.

The ball was played through the crowd to a player in an obvious offside position and up went my assistant’s flag.

What he didn’t realise was the ball had for some reason been played backwards by a player of the opposing team.

No doubt my assistant felt disgruntled when I overruled his flag and so I had to explain at half-time.