Ref Watch: Dermot Gallagher returns for start of Sky Bet EFL season

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Lewis Grabban (R), of Sunderland takes on Jacob Butterfield of Derby County during the Sky Bet Championship match between
Image: Jacob Butterfield's handball led to a Sunderland penalty which was converted by Lewis Grabban

Dermot Gallagher returns for a new season of Ref Watch and casts his expert eye over the opening weekend in the Sky Bet EFL.

After a summer break, the former Premier League and FIFA referee returned to Premier League Daily to have his say on the big decisions as the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two returned to action.

There was also the use of a video assistant referee (VAR) in the MLS for Dermot to discuss. Read on to find out his thoughts...

Sunderland v Derby

SCENARIO: Derby midfielder Jacob Butterfield is penalised for a handball by referee Oliver Langford which sees Sunderland win a penalty as it occurred in the box. Lewis Grabban scores the equalising spot kick.

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Was referee Oliver Langford right to penalise Jacob Butterfield for a handball in Derby’s match with Sunderland?

DERMOT SAYS: "I can understand why the referee has given a penalty but I don't think it is a penalty at all. I think the ball comes off his thigh, goes up and hits him on the arm. From the referee's view though, he doesn't see it hit his leg, he only sees the ball striking his arm and that's why he gives it.

"The interesting thing is, I spoke to a referee at a game on Saturday and he's convinced it is a penalty. What I say is, when the VAR comes, we have to accept that it will not be 100 per cent true to what we want. If I was the VAR ref for that game, I would've said it wasn't a penalty but the guy I spoke to on Saturday said it was so we will still have that little bit of cloud."

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Highlights from the Stadium of Light as Sunderland faced Derby in the Sky Bet Championship opener

SCENARIO: Curtis Davies goes to ground in the box as a corner is taken by Derby. He appeals for the foul but nothing is given by the referee, much to his dismay.

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DERMOT SAYS: "I don't think it is a penalty. I think the referee has got this absolutely right. He's gone down a bit too easily, he's put his hand on his shoulder and I think it is very difficult to give that for the referee. I can understand why he hasn't given that and I would support the referee."

Bolton v Leeds

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Bolton were awarded a penalty in their Championship game with Leeds after Conor Shaughnessy was penalised for this shirt pull on Gary Madine

SCENARIO: Leeds defender Conor Shaughnessy is penalised for a shirt pull on striker Gary Madine in the box and results in a penalty for Bolton. Adam Le Fondre scores for the home side and pulls a goal back.

DERMOT SAYS: "I think this is the perfect start to the season to be honest because it is definitely a penalty, there's no doubt about it. The referee is close, he's given it and it sets the standard because now, we all know where we are.

"We've seen instances in the past. Robert Huth against Crystal Palace is a famous one which wasn't given for whatever reason, but it has been given now and it puts a marker in the sand to say 'this is not acceptable' and everybody agrees that it was a penalty. I would say to referees if you see that, then give it because the TV will always prove you right."

Watch Championship goals NOW!

Watch Championship goals NOW!

Watch all the highlights from this weekend's Sky Bet Championship matches.

Nottm Forest v Millwall

SCENARIO: Millwall striker Steve Morison slots home a cross from Jed Wallace, but Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Jordan Smith is down on the ground after a collision with Lee Gregory. Despite celebrations from the away side, the referee rules out the goal.

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Stevie Morison saw an equaliser for Millwall ruled out on Friday night in their game against Nottingham Forest

DERMOT SAYS: "I think it is a foul on the goalkeeper. The interesting thing is I don't know who gave that decision, I think it was maybe the assistant because of where the referee was and what I would say is whoever gave that decision, they have got it absolutely right.

"When the ball comes in, Gregory bangs into the goalkeeper and he can't get back so it is a foul. I wonder if the referee looked across and said that there was a foul on the goalkeeper. If he did, it is first class."

QPR v Reading

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Reading’s Tiago Ilori was sent off and QPR awarded a penalty in Saturday’s match but what about the foul on Jon Dadi Bodvarsson in the build up?

SCENARIO: Tiago Ilori is shown a red card for fouling Pawel Wszolek in the box, with Conor Washington converting the penalty for QPR. There is also a potential foul on Jon Dadi Bodvarsson in the build-up.

DERMOT SAYS: "They argue about a foul but the referee plays on and I think quite rightly because they're attacking at the time, but when the play comes back up the field, the player has to be sent off because he doesn't make a genuine attempt to play the ball. The fact he grabs him, he has no right to do that, but if he trips him, he can argue that he has gone to play the ball but he didn't so the referee is absolutely right with the red card."

Portland Timbers v LA Galaxy

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VAR technology was used for the first time in the MLS and it had a huge impact on LA Galaxy’s game with Portland Timbers

SCENARIO: After a frantic opening with two goals in the first 10 minutes, Gyasi Zardes pokes home from close range for LA Galaxy. The referee awards the goal but just before the game kicks back off, he signals that he will be checking with the VAR. After watching the goal again, the referee disallows it for taking the ball down with his arm and Zardes was shown a yellow card.

DERMOT SAYS: "It is very lucky that he didn't kick off because he couldn't have gone back then. Someone has alerted him. I'm not sure this is the best way of looking at the incident but what I would say is he is correct because when he goes back to have a look, the player who scored did handle the ball so it might look messy and it might have taken a bit of time, but it was the correct decision."

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