Ref Watch: Shrewsbury Town (A)

The Imps travel to whatever the New Meadow is being labelled as this weekend, hoping to edge ever-closer to League One football next season.

It’s going to be a tough game; we have only beaten Shrewsbury Town once in the league since 2008. Will we have an official who will let the game flow, and hopefully lead to another Imps victory?

Assistants: Christopher Husband and Andrew Hendley
Fourth Official: Joe Clark

Chris Pollard came through the National League in 2017/18, and 2018/19. He had a decent record there, only sending off a single player, then exploded onto the Football League scene with a red in his first game! It was a Mansfield player though, on the opening day of the 2019/20 season, so we can probably forgive that.

His first Imps game was the appalling 1-0 defeat at Gillingham in that season, notable for the fact Steve Evans was not booked. Neal Eardley was; for taking a free-kick too quickly, which is a new one on me. The game was also notable for being Callum Connolly’s last in an Imps shirt. He had another Imps game before the end of the curtailed season, this time overseeing our 4-3 defeat at Accrington, the game which saw Jason Shackell score an own goal, add one of his own, and play his final game for the club.

It seems Chris Pollard brings final game curses; who might it be tomorrow?

Pollard watches on as we lose in Kent –  Courtesy Graham Burrell

He made his first appearance at Sincil Bank last season, and this time in more joyous circumstances; he was the referee who gave us a penalty in the 2-0 win against Plymouth, which had Ryan Lowe foaming at the mouth. To be fair, it was soft, but the officials had missed one moments earlier. A couple of weeks later, he sent off four players in two matches, one being Aaron Pierre of Shrewsbury in their FA Cup win against Oxford City, and another former Imp Tim Akinola for Arsenal U21s in the EFL Trophy (a game Brooke Norton-Cuffy played in). We didn’t see him again, but he did send off Elliot Whitehouse for Forest Green in March.

We haven’t seen him this season, although he only got his first League One match in October. In 23 matches across all competitions, he’s sent off just one player and booked 73. He’s only awarded one penalty in league competition as well; that coming as Bristol Rovers beat Sutton 2-0.

In his seven League One outings, Chris Pollard has been known to let matches flow. He awards 19 fouls per game, leaving him 51st out of 60 in the table for most fouls awarded. That’s a 0.86 ‘fouls per tackle’ ratio, which is again in the lower half of the table (44th). He’s even in the bottom part of the table for yellows per game, making him seem a lenient referee who likes to blend into the background, but will act when called upon.

Let’s hope that’s right!