Ref Watch: Bolton Wanderers (A)

The biggest challenge referee Peter Wright had this weekend was deciding whether the pitch was playable, which it seems it was not. Having seen pictures of the Fleetwood surface when the snow melted, he got that sport on.

I never get it when one club’s fans call another club ‘tin pot’ because they can’t get a game on. I despise that saying, I really do. Yes, there were blue skies over Fleetwood by 4 pm on Saturday, but it doesn’t mean the surface was playable. It seems to me the referee made the right call, but will tomorrow’s have decisions to make with a strong bearing on the final outcome?

Referee: SAM ALLISON
Assistants: Matthew Parry and Simon Clayton
Fourth Official: Anthony Backhouse

Sam is a former National League referee, who took charge of our 3-2 win against Woking during our title season, awarding two penalties in the game. I praised him on that occasion, saying he took a brave stand to give us a spot-kick (which Dayle Southwell missed) before Woking’s late consolation strike from an Elliott Whitehouse foul. He was also in charge of our 1-1 draw at Southport as we famously said goodbye to the National League, but as we left, he didn’t. He remained in the National League until the 2020/21 season when he earned his promotion to the ranks of the EFL.

Credit Graham Burrell

He was in charge of our 2-0 victory against Rochdale last season, and again there was no cause for me to mention the officials. The following week he flashed his only red card of the season, sending off Luke Waterfall in the game between Grimsby and Southend, both of whom were relegated. We haven’t had him as match official this season, but he has been the fourth official at one of our game, as we went down 1-0 at Wycombe. It was a fairly low key affair, the reason we lost being our ability to shoot ourselves in the foot, rather than anything the officials did.

He has shown a few more reds this season; six in 22 matches, but three of those came in one games, unsurprisingly involving Steve Evans’ Gillingham. He does like a yellow card too, with his tally of 89 coming in at marginal over four per game, one more than average. As for penalties, don’t expect too much; he’s given five this season, but only one in 2022, that coming as Walsall defeated Tranmere recently.