Ref Watch: Bolton Wanderers (A)

Referee: NEIL HAIR
Stephen Wade and Anthony Moore
Fourth Official: Conor Brown

This week we have Neil Hair officiating our match, a referee we saw once last season.

His first season in the top five divisions was 2016/17, in the National League, which was quite special for us! We only had him once that season, as we won 4-0 away at Braintree courtesy of Lee Angol’s hat trick. He took another year in the National League, so we next met during our League Two title-winning season. He reffed the infamous Watergate game, a 2-2 draw between us and Carlisle, and didn’t show a single yellow card. However, his performance did not impress me; he let a lot go, and if you look back at the match highlights, he missed a blatant penalty for a foul on Akinde.

He wasn’t too bad the following season. His first season on the Football League list saw him officiate some League One matches. At that level, he made his next visit to the Bank, officiating our 5-1 win against Bolton, Harry Toffollo’s final game for the club. This time, there was no mention of the ref at all, and still few bookings; just one for either team. Last season he took charge of our 2-1 win at Plymouth, and my write-up doesn’t suggest he had a bad game; I didn’t mention him until the final whistle in my report.

Watergate – Courtesy of Graham Burrell

He’s officiated six games so far this season, with just one of those in our division (Burton and Exeter). He’s only sent off a single player, George Horbury, in the Sutton v Harrogate encounter, and his yellow card count is average. He’s officiated four times in League Two, where he’s 31/49 for fouls per game, 23/49 for fouls given per tackle and 31/49 for yellows per game. Basically, he looks like the type of ref that’s happy to punish fouls with yellows but does let some of the smaller things go.

Hopefully, that means a free-flowing encounter as we hunt for our first win at Bolton since Valentine’s Day 1984 (Hobson and John Thomas netting).