Ref Watch: Fleetwood Town (H)

Assistant: Johnathon Bickerdike and Joe Simpson
Fourth Official: Garreth Rhodes

Hopefully, this week’s referee will be stronger than a couple we’ve had over the past few weeks.

We have seen Yates a few times, once as the fourth official during our game against Gillingham at the Bank when we lost 3-0. It wasn’t a great night for us as Lincoln fans, and one imagines Mr Yates went back to Yate, or wherever he came from, with a bit of an earache from the famous old antagonist Steve Evans.

As an official, we first crossed paths with Ollie Yates in 2015/16, during a game in which we drew 1-1 with Altrincham. He handed out two bookings and considering we had Alan Power playing and he wasn’t booked, it seems like a rather low-key affair. He was back later in the season, another 1-1 draw at the Bank, this time he did book Power, as well as three Gateshead players. At the end of the season, he was promoted to the Football League and didn’t have the honour of officiating the DC-era National League team.

Toffollo, who could have been sent off at Yeovil – Credit Graham Burrell

I wonder if he suffered an injury as he refereed until October 2016 but then dropped off the radar until March 2018. Whatever the story, he took charge of 19 games across two seasons, before picking up 37 in 2018/19. Of those 37, only one was a Lincoln game, away at Yeovil where we won 2-0. He didn’t show a red card, but Harry Toffolo should have got one for a shocking high boot. Them’s the breaks, and we certainly got one.

In 2019/20, rather curiously, he refereed us home and away against Blackpool. The first game was Michael Appleton’s first in charge, whilst the second was, somewhat ironically, our first without Harry Toffolo. We won that encounter 1-0, and I said of the official: “Yates had a good game throughout to be fair to him, he let the contest flow and rarely put a foot wrong (apart from signalling advantage with one arm which confused me at times). He was also the official at the centre of Boston’s York Street FA Cup heartbreak, as they lost 2-1 to Rochdale in the last cup game at York Street.

Imps v Wycombe Credit Graham Burrell

Last season, he took charge of a tough game for us, the 1-1 draw at the Bank with Wycombe, and I remarked: “I’ve seen some criticism of the referee and I get why; he missed some pretty rough handling of our players and seemed, from an Imps perspective, to let a bit go, but on the whole, I wasn’t angry at him at all. If anything, his biggest error was apparently not realising he’d booked Josh Scowen for a foul, and then sending him off late on. That’s what Gareth Ainsworth thinks happened, but I don’t think any foul or offence should ever be judged on whether the player is already on a card. It’s called sensible refereeing when they do (MK Dons at home last season is a prime example of it working for us), but if Scowen has committed an offence, and he’s on a yellow, and it’s the last minute of the game, he’s probably getting sent off. I also thought he missed a penalty to them in the first half, so we can’t really complain.”

So far this season, he only officiated a single League One game, Barnsley and Wycombe, and ranks 20/32 for fouls awarded, 24/32 for fouls awarded per tackle and 21/32 for yellow cards.