The Man in the Middle: AFC Wimbledon (H)

It’s the final game of the normal season this weekend, at home to AFC Wimbledon.

In truth, very little rides on the game. Sure, we’ll be in the play-offs anyway and the right set of results could give us home advantage in the second leg, but as Kate Jackson said yesterday, it isn’t a huge benefit. still, it’s nice to know the officials, right?

Ref: Scott Oldham
Assistants: Wayne Grunnill and Lisa Rashid
Fourth Official: Paul Stonier

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.

Scott Oldham’s first Imps game – Courtesy Graham Burrell

Oldham was 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 up until this season in which we have been beaten which he has officiated, and he was controlling our 3-2 win against Burton Albion.

He officiated us earlier in the campaign, the 2-1 defeat at Oxford, where he didn’t impress me. In that game, after he missed a blatant penalty against us, but levelled it up with a handball missed in their goal, I was angry. Then he could (and should) have sent their keeper off, turning in an inconsistent display, to which I remarked:  “The referee continued in his inconsistent vein, booking Edun for the faintest of pull backs on their player, but then ignoring a worse infringement from Hanson on Harry, again, not long after. If one is a yellow ref, the other has to be, it shouldn’t matter if you have already booked the player. There was another blatant handball in a move by Sykes which was missed, but then Scully offended in the same way and it was caught. I’m not saying those incidents changed the game, but they just poured more sand into the side of my scales marked ‘injustice’.” 

Luckily, there’s nothing really on the line, unlike last Saturday. For the record, if we were to see the referee replaced by the fourth official, as we saw against Charlton, then Paul Stonier would take charge of his first Football League match, having previously only been an assistant.