The Man in the Middle: Shrewsbury (A)

Saturday’s defeat against Hull City might have been tough to take given how late we threw it away, but there was plenty to take heart from.

One thing I felt relatively comfortable with was the performance of referee Sam Purkiss, who officiated sensibly even if it didn’t really give us much of an advantage. Yes, Honeyman could have been sent off, but so could Brennan Johnson a couple of weeks ago. Some you win, some you lose, and I felt Purkiss let the game flow and kept it as an engrossing spectacle. Can we expect the same tomorrow?

Referee: Ollie Yates
Assistants: Abbas Khan and Darren Wilding
Fourth Official: Anthony Moore

We have seen Yates once this season, albeit as the fourth official during our game against Gillingham at the Bank. It wasn’t a great night for us as Lincoln fans, and one imagines Mr Yates went back to Yate, or wherever he came from, with a bit of an earache.

As an official, we first crossed paths in 2015/16, during a game in which we drew 1-1 with Altrincham. He handed out two bookings and considering we had Alan Power playing and he wasn’t booked, it seems like a rather low-key affair. He was back later in the season, another 1-1 draw at the Bank, this time he did book Power, as well as three Gateshead players. At the end of the season, he was promoted to the Football League and didn’t have the honour of officiating the DC era National League team.

Booked quite a lot in his career

I wonder if he suffered an injury as he refereed until October 2016, but then dropped off the radar until March 2018. Whatever the story, he took charge of 19 games across two seasons, before picking up 37 in 2018/19. Of those 37, only one was a Lincoln game, away at Yeovil where we won 2-0. He didn’t show a red card, but Harry Toffolo should have got one for a shocking high boot. Them’s the breaks, and we certainly got one.

Last season, rather curiously, he refereed us home and away against Blackpool. The first game was Michael Appleton’s first in charge, whilst the second was, somewhat ironically, our first without Harry Toffolo. We won that encounter 1-0, and I said of the official: Yates had a good game throughout to be fair to him, he let the contest flow and rarely put a foot wrong (apart from signalling advantage with one arm which confused me at times). He was also the official at the centre of Boston’s FA Cup heartbreak, as they lost 2-1 to Rochdale in the last cup game at York Street.

This is the fifth referee in a row we’ve had that I have previously praised. Let’s hope that is a good omen. For the record, in 29 matches this season, he has sent off three players and booked 92, an average of just under three cards per game, and a red every ten.