Ref Watch: Burton Albion (A)

We’re off for a Burton this weekend, with The Brewers the Imps opponents as we look to get our third win, and first clean sheet of the season.

Our game against Ipswich was certainly adversely affected by the officials (not that I’m bitter, right?), but what of this weekend? Do we have another calamity waiting to happen? The short answer is no.

Assistants: Ian Smedley and Danny Gratton
Fourth Official: Hristo Karaivanov

We first encountered Craig Hicks in 2013/14 when he officiated our 2-1 win at Salisbury. In 2016/17, he took charge of our 0-0 draw with Aldershot and the 2-1 win at Torquay early in the season, where he awarded us a second-minute penalty. He was promoted to the Football League in the summer of 2017 and was in charge as we lost 1-0 to Exeter City He has been good to us since then in terms of results, overseeing our 4-1 win at Crewe in 2017/18 and the 3-0 win at Crawley during our title-winning season.

Hicks v Sunderland – Credit Graham Burrell

There was some controversy in 2019/20 as he failed to award us a ‘stonewall’ penalty in the defeat at Doncaster, with then-manager Danny Cowley feeling we should have had three. Likewise, when we lost 1-0 to Shrewsbury earlier in the season, I claimed he should have given us a couple of penalties which he did not. He does like to let the game flow, and in some instances that sees petty fouls get missed or players get let off. Is that a good thing? I suppose it depends if you’re fouled, or fouling, pushing or being pushed.

The last time our paths crossed was in May, when he officiated our Play-Off Semi-Final win against Sunderland, a memorable evening for all concerned. I felt he had a decent game then, and we know what to expect as a result. He’ll let the game flow, be easy with his cards and hopefully, punish blatant pushes. So far this season he’s officiated six matches, handed out 21 yellow cards and awarded one penalty. Don’t expect any spot kicks either; he’s only awarded three since the turn of the year.