Ref Watch: Manchester United U21s (H) Papa John’s Trophy

It’s EFL Trophy time again, a competition you either hate, or can put up with, and we’ve got Manchester United’s kid in the first game.

I call them kids because it’s not even their Under 23 side. It is the Under 21s, and whilst we may see future stars on the field, it will be an underwhelming game with low attendance. There’s no programme being produced that I’m aware of, and I imagine few will drag themselves to the game. I don’t boycott the competition, but I have missed the Under 21 matches in the past. If I do go, it will be a last-minute decision. One factor which might affect your choice is the match referee.

Referee: Christopher Sarginson
Assistants Refs: Wayne Grunnill and Kenwyn Hughes
Fourth Official: Mark Jones

This season, Chris Sarginson has officiated two matches, the most recent of which was Exeter City’s thumping of Bristol Rovers at the weekend. We saw him once last season, in the same competition, as we rolled Accrington over by four goals to nil. In that game, he had little to do, much like Alex Palmer.

He handed out three red cards in 31 matches last season, alongside 78 yellows, which isn’t bad. he’s known for letting games flow, and whilst he can be an unpopular ref in some quarters, he’s not one I’ve had cause to complain about in the past. In fact, Sarginson has been on the end of a couple of decisions that have worked in our favour in recent years. He was the referee who sent off Siriki Dembele as we beat Posh 2-1 on New Year’s Day 2020, and he was the referee who allowed John Akinde’s goal against Wycombe last season which I don’t think should have stood.

Elding sent off in this game – Credit Graham Burrell

Going even further back, he did us a favour sending off Pat Kanyucka as we lost 6-0 to Rotherham in 2011 (ten men was better than Kanyucka in a full team of eleven), and he was lenient when only booking Anthony Elding for kicking out at Efe Sodje when we played Bury (although he did send Elding off not long after for twatting Ryan Cresswell). He does have a habit of sending off players we go on to loathe, he dismissed Ben Hutchinson as we drew 1-1 with Macclesfield in 2011, a game that if we had won we would most likely have stayed up.

All I would say is some fans have concerns over a referee who has spent many years in League One and Two, but never gone beyond. He graduated from the Blue Square Premier in 2007/08, but has always remained in the lower divisions. I have no cause for concern, but I know some fans vehemently disagree.