Ref Watch: Cheltenham Town (H)

What do we know about referees, right? After all, a certain Mr Kettle was spot on this week against Portsmouth, barely a mention was warranted after a calm and sensible display of officiating.

For tomorrow’s fixture against Cheltenham, the one that should finally see us safe, do we have an official likely to put in a reliable display?

Assistants: Geoffrey Russell and Stephen Wade
Fourth Official: Wayne Grunnill

It’s hard to tell, because we haven’t had Mr Mather before; very few teams in League One have. Up until last season, he was working the National League circuit, and his only ‘appearance’ against City came as a fourth official in our game against Sunderland recently. Instead, we’re going to have to go on his previous record and, if that’s anything to go by, it might be worth laying down some money on a red card.

In his first season, 2018/19, he seemed fairly restrained, with one red card in 20 matches, and an average of just three yellows per game. The following season he had fewer games, just 16, but issued more yellows (61) and more reds (5). However, he was clearly a respected referee as he was awarded the Harrogate and Boreham Wood National League play-off semi-final. Last season, he appeared to try to make it up to Boreham Wood; of the seven players he sent off, three came in three different matches against Boreham Wood. Obviously, it was a coincidence, but you have to chuckle. Three of those red cards were given to Solihull Moors players in two different matches as well.

Scored the only goal of the Harrogate v Boreham Wood game – Credit Graham Burrell

This season, Mr Mather has again shown more red cards than usual; in 29 matches across all competitions, he’s sent off ten players and booked 122. That’s an average of four cards per game (more than usual), and one red every three (way more than usual). Curiously, he’s once again sent off two players from the same team in different matches; Port Vale on the end of his card this time.

In League One, he has the third-highest number of fouls per game; 27.25 across his eight fixtures. He’s awarded just two penalties in his eight games, but still comes 19th out of 60 for penalties per game. Here’s where to worry, perhaps; he issues 4.63 yellows per game, above average and the 6th-highest in League One, whilst he is second in reds per game, with a red card every other League One game. Mind you, he is on a roll; he’s sent off three players in his last four matches, twice sending off a goalscorer (Luke McCormick for Wimbledon v Sunderland, and Tommy Leigh for Accrington v Charlton). He showed 12 yellow cards in that Wimbledon Sunderland game as well.

It could be an afternoon where those who don’t like hearing a whistle need to bring earplugs.