The Man in the Middle: Sunderland POSF (A)

We are at the halfway stage of a massive, massive game for City, and hopefully, Saturday can see us once again visiting the hallowed turf of Wembley.

These ties can turn quickly though, a moment of brilliance, a bobble in the area or a dodgy decision. Which referee are we hoping ensures fair play, from Wyke’s elbows to some of our own rather robust challenges?

Assistants: Mark Pottage and Steven Meredith
Fourth Official: Darren Bond
Reserve AR: Mark Dwyer

We haven’t seen Mr Salisby this season and for good reason – he’s spent much of his time refereeing in the Championship. He’s one of the more lenient referees around, having booked 56 players in 26 games, just over two per game. He’s only sent one player off too, that being Stoke’s Nathan Collins for an off-the-ball incident.

In terms of the Imps, like many of today’s officials, we first crossed paths in the National League. On a dire evening for the Imps, Salisby took charge of a 1-0 defeat at home by Bromley, the sort of evening which seems a lifetime ago. In 2016/17, as we were giving the Bromleys of the world a glimpse of what was to come, Salisbury was in the Football League flashing red cards like there was no tomorrow. He sent of nine players in 31 games, an average of one every three games, more or less. Mind you, one of those was Jon Nolan, so that should maybe be applauded.

The following season, 2017/18, we crossed paths twice. The first time was our EFL Trophy win against Peterborough, where he didn’t show a single card. After that, he also turned up for our final away game of the season, seeing us go down 1-0 to Accrington and awarding the hosts a penalty, correctly, which Ryan Allsop saved.

No penalty

In our title-winning season, he took charge of two City games, as we beat Swindon 4-1 and drew 1-1 with Northampton. In the latter game, he angered me beyond all reason. We did have a red card against us, Harry sent off for a nasty tackle for which there is no defence. However, in order to allow the game to flow, Mr Salisbury let a flurry of fouls go unpunished, late on, he denied us a nailed-on penalty.

The final time our paths crossed came against MK Dons in the final knockings of Danny’s reign. In that game, he allowed a goal to stand that should have been called offside, although he wasn’t widely condemned as his assistant didn’t help and after that, he had an unfussy game. My hope is that the Northampton clash, which angered me immensely, was either me being partisan are a one-off. His current record certainly suggests he’s a decent referee and hopefully, one that doesn’t have to make a big decision at the weekend.