The Man in the Middle – Oxford (A)

For these articles, I’ve added the ‘H’ or ‘A’ now to differentiate between home and away, seeing as they’ve remained a feature. Besides, I got it wrong when I first published this, so I obviously need the help.

I do hope the introduction to the referee is a decent read, 500 or so of you like to have a look, so it seems worth doing. I suppose much depends on the size of the match, and they don’t come much bigger than this weekend. Win, and I think we put Oxford out of reach of us. Lose, and we present a chance for Doncaster, Blackpool and Portsmouth to all grab our coattails. Draw, and it is a nervous Saturday looking at other results and hoping, maybe even praying, for some divine intervention. Into whose hands are we placing the responsibility of referring the game?

Referee: Scott Oldham

Assistant Referee: Stuart Butler, Anthony Da Costa

Fourth Official: Charles Breakspear

Like many of this season’s officials, Scott Oldham graduated from the National League around the same time as us. He was on the National League roster in 2016/17, but he did not take charge of one of our games. He did referee the 2-2 draw between Aldershot and Tranmere in the play-offs though, and such was his calm approach to games, he didn’t brandish a red card all season. That earned him a spot in the League Two the same year we went up.

The first time we came across him was in our 1-0 win at Swindon in the 2017/18 season, before he visited Sincil Bank for the first time later in the season as we beat Newport 3-1. Both games saw him book two Imps players, but again the red card stayed in his pocket and the penalty spot wasn’t troubled.

Beating Newport 3-1, Courtesy Graham Burrell

Oldham is something of a lucky charm for us, the following season we saw him once, as we beat Yeovil 1-0 at the Bank thanks to Mark O’Hara’s header. In 34 matches that year, he sent off just one player and booked 99. It’s fair to say when he can, his cards stay in his pocket, although in 2019/20 he did brandish five in his 32 games, including a little spell of four in eight games. He did appear in the middle of a City game twice. we were beaten 3-1 at current bogey side Doncaster in the EFL Trophy, the only game in which we have been beaten which he has officiated, and he was controlling our 3-2 win against Burton Albion.

This season, we have had him on one occasion on the opening Saturday of the season away at Crewe. In 25 matches he has booked 48 players, just under two bookings per game, and he has yet to send a player off. In fairness, not one of the Imps games he’s taken charge of has been controversial, and I think we have a calm and respected referee in charge of what is yet another key game in our promotion push.