Arsenal loanee Matt Macey conceded one of the stranger goals of the season with Plymouth Argyle on Saturday, on a sad day for the club as they got relegated to League Two.
Plymouth played against fellow relegation-battlers Scunthorpe on the final day of the season, knowing that they needed a win and for other results to go their way. They took a 2-1 lead in the first half, before a bizarre instance of unsportsmanlike conduct from their opponents.
Macey was clearly struggling with an injury, so he signalled to the referee and tried to throw the ball out of play to receive treatment. A Scunthorpe player anticipated the throw, sprinted over to intercept it before lobbing the goalkeeper to level the scores:
Goalkeeper Injured and tries to roll the ball out. Plymouth v Scunthorpe pic.twitter.com/P93e5bR6MM
— FantasyFootballTalk (@FPLFantasyTalk) May 4, 2019
Macey’s injury was genuine, and he was substituted shortly after. Meanwhile, Scunthorpe showed no signs of remorse, refusing to give a goal in return as Leeds did against Aston Villa recently.
In the end, it didn’t matter, as Plymouth managed to find a winner, before being relegated anyway thanks to a late Southend victory over Sunderland. Scunthorpe went down to League Two as well after their defeat.
Nonetheless, the Scunthorpe chairman admitted afterwards they’d all got it wrong in that moment.
“I apologise wholeheartedly to everyone who’s seen what’s happened there,” Peter Swann told BBC Radio. “That’s not in the spirit of the game.
“If Josh has picked the ball up and put it in the back of the net, the managers and everybody, the captain, they’ve all had the opportunity to stand there and sort out something. That’s not the way I’ve run a football club and it’s not the way I’ve come into football, so I’m really disappointed about it.”
Plymouth Argyle called the incident ‘the most unsporting goal in Home Park history’ on Twitter:
Macey getting treatment.
It's 2-2 as it stands.
The most unsporting goal in Home Park history.#pafc
— Plymouth Argyle FC (@Only1Argyle) May 4, 2019
Swann accepted he couldn’t argue with that assessment, concluding: “When your club’s being attacked like that because of a decision that we made, you sit there and you don’t feel very proud of the club.
“My club’s just come under a bit of pressure because we’ve been relegated, we’ve been accused of being unsportsmanlike, which I think we probably have been.”
Macey will now return to Arsenal, with 38 appearances, 70 goals conceded and five clean sheets behind him this season. It seems unlikely he’ll get a chance with the Gunners next season, but that’s a problem to be solved this summer. For now, he’ll just be disappointed he couldn’t help his loan team survive the drop.