Ref Watch: Carlisle United (A) EFL Trophy

I can’t recall an EFL Trophy game in which there were many bad decisions, certainly not of late.

They tend to be low-key matches in terms of incident, but for us, goals often flow. Will the referee on Tuesday be allowing the game to do just that?

Assistants: Bradley Hall and Lewis Raper
Fourth Official: Lucy May

James Bell is a relatively new referee on the circuit, although we’re no stranger to him. He made his Football League debut last season, and predominately took charge of games in League Two. He did officiate one of our matches, the 5-1 victory against Bolton which was notable for the goals and Harry Toffolo’s departure, not the performance of the referee, which is a good sign.

Last season, he handed out nine red in 31 matches, and he was the fourth official for our games on a couple of occasions, one of which was the EFL trophy semi-final defeat against Sunderland. We’ve had him once this season, a tough game to officiate too, away at Wycombe. He handed out four bookings in that encounter, but no reds.

City v Bolton Courtesy Graham Burrell

In fact, he is renowned for keeping it 11v11 this season. In 19 matches, he hasn’t shown a single red card, whereas last year he pulled nine in just 31 games.  He has awarded six penalties this season, including one in the recent Bolton and Crewe match. Generally, he has a decent reputation around the Football League and is seen very much as an official of the future.

Our fourth official, Lucy May, has taken charge of a number of Women’s Super League matches and is tipped by many to be the next female official to step into the men’s game in the near future. She comes from a refereeing household, her partner Michael is on the Premier League select list.