Ref Watch: Accrington Stanley (H)

Hopefully, the furore over Tuesday’s game has died down a bit (although I’m writing this at 6 am on Tuesday, so I don’t know if there actually was any), and we can focus on what’s ahead; Accrington.

We’ve had some interesting refereeing decisions against them in the past, I recall a penalty we got that led to a red card for them, but hopefully, this weekend will be all about the football.

Assistants: Nicholas Cooper and Simon Shaw
Fourth Official: Samuel Barrott

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.

Our paths crossed again 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 he did the same earlier this season, as we won 2-1 away at Burton. In that game, I commented: “Craig Hicks, a referee I had no cause to talk about at all, blew the whistle and delivered us a much-needed three points.”

So far this season, he’s booked 38 players in 14 games, and sent just one off. He’s only awarded one penalty in his last 20 matches, so expect three bookings, and little else!