Referee: MARTIN WOODS
Bradley Hall and Steven Rushton
Fourth Official: William Davis
Tonight really is a case of stepping into the unknown; we haven’t been to Oakwell this century. The last time we went, we had a 4-2 deficit in the League Cup and led 2-0 at one point courtesy of Gavin Gordon and Richard Peacock, only to concede two late goals and lose 6-4 on aggregate. Curiously, future Imp Nicky Eaden got one of those goals, and in a tragic turn of events, Super Kevin Austin sustained the injury that probably stopped him going on to the second tier and beyond. He’d only left us that summer, but a 40th-minute injury ruled him out for a year; he only played four games in two-and-a-half years and he didn’t play a full season until 2002/03. Before that, Trevor Peake and Tony Cunningham gave us a 2-1 win there, only for the visitors to win by the same margin at the Bank in the second leg of the cup and eliminate us on penalties.
Why is it also unique in terms of the referee? Because we have a first-year official who has not yet taken a League One match nor an EFL Trophy match. The little trip down memory lane was all about padding! Martin Woods had four seasons in the National League before stepping up this season; he took a single League Two game last season, Walsall v Carlisle, ahead of his promotion to the Football League. It was an uneventful encounter, apart from the fact Carl Rushworth played for the hosts, and the win (and clean sheet) secured their Football League status.
We didn’t see many fouls given at the weekend in what I can only describe as a shocker for Ollie Yates, but Woods likes his whistle; he’s averaged 30 fouls per game this season, the third highest in League Two. In his two games, he has awarded two penalties and averages 4.33 yellow cards per game, putting him in the top ten once again.