The Man in the Middle: Burton (A)

I’m a firm believer in runs coming to an end, in history being stopped and teams changing their own fate.

We’ve done it over the last five games (Oxford doesn’t count, I’ve said it before), with good wins and some solid performances. We did it at the weekend, throwing 19 years of disappointment in Bristol away with a good win. we even did it against Crewe this season, winning three times against them in a season when that really is not usually the norm. Worryingly, with three wins from three against Burton, ten goals scored and some great memories made, I’m a little fearful for tomorrow.

Mind you, we have been blessed with decent referees. Luke Leahy might think Will Finnie needed help at the weekend, but I thought he made the right call on most of the big incidents, and that followed up a good performance from Bobby Madley too. Two games, two good refs, is it third time lucky tomorrow?

Assistants: Nick Greenhalgh and Mark Dwyer
Fourth Official: Mark Jones

Sleepfest – Courtesy Graham Burrell

Josh Smith, who started out as a player for Bourne Town, is another referee with limited experience in the Football League, joining the ranks last year after a season in the National League. He had the immense displeasure of refereeing the worst game of last season in terms of a spectacle, the bore draw with Shrewsbury in October. In that game he sent off Cian Bolger for an elbow on Shaun Whalley, but it was the right call. In fact, of the young official, I said this: “I was impressed with Josh Smith. That lad is in his mid-twenties and I thought he managed the game very well. He got the big calls right, even though they went against us, and he let the game flow. His use of advantage was spot on and I felt he was far and away the best official we’ve had all season.”

Promising signs then? I’d say so. This season he has officiated 15 matches, three in the Championship, and flashed just two red cards. One was Huddersfield’s Naby Sarr for a clear professional foul, the other Nathaniel Knight-Percival. He has only awarded two penalties in matches though, the most recent of which Jonson Clarke-Harris missed as Posh beat Swindon 3-0.