Ref Watch: Accrington Stanley (H)

Christopher Ward and Joe Simpson
Fourth Official : Richard Wigglesworth

Tonight we host Accrington, hoping to erase the memory of Saturday’s dismal defeat quickly. In the middle, we’ll have a familiar face in Ross Joyce.

We first crossed paths with Ross Joyce during his extended stay in the National League. His first full year at that level was also ours, and he first came to the Bank as we drew 1-1 with Forest Green in September, where he issued just two yellow cards. He was back on Boxing Day as we lost 2-1 at home to Grimsby and again in March as David Holdsworth secured a 2-0 win against Newport in the game that saw protests outside the ground against Bob Dorrian and the club board.

He was a regular at the Bank after that, sending off Jake Sheridan as we beat Dartford 2-1 in February 2013, then returning the favour a month later by sending off Alfreton’s Connor Franklin seven minutes into our 2-0 win at their place (Craig Hobson scored for us, happy days). He certainly had a busy game when we travelled to Halifax in 2014/15, awarding two penalties and sending off Hamza Bencherif as we lost 3-2. By that point, his stock was rising, and he was awarded the play-off final, in which Bristol Rovers beat Grimsby on penalties, a great day for Imps fans. That saw him promoted to the Football League list, leaving us behind for a short while. Curiously, in 16/17, he sent off 12 in 44 matches, but the following season just two in 41.

Ross Joyce was in charge of this one – Courtesy Graham Burrell

Our paths first crossed in the Football League on November 18 against Coventry, a game where Jodi Jones destroyed us and a game refereed fairly, as I recall. He was back as we drew 2-2 with Notts County on Freck’s return to the side, and that is where I began to get a dim view of him. Perhaps rather harshly, I described him thus (and it is only my opinion) – an absolute shambles of a man, inept to the point where he defines the word rather than being described by it. He’s clearly out of his depth, this match was high pressure, lots of noise and two teams who know every trick in the book. It seems someone at the FA reads the site because despite before popping up to send off Michael O’Connor against Mansfield in the EFL Trophy the following season, he barely features in the middle again for one of our games. He did get the League Two play-off final, as well as the FA Vase final.

Since then, he has been in charge of us a couple of times, and two of those were 3-0 home defeats. One was our abject 3-0 defeat at home against Gillingham, the other an equally as tough reverse against Portsmouth 11 months ago. That feels like a bad omen, and there’s more; this season, he’s officiated in ten matches, and only one of those has been a home win. His last four matches have all been draws, and his only League One matches (three of them) have seen two red cards and not a single goal for the home side! One of his reds came after just five minutes in Burton’s 0-4 home defeat by Bristol Rovers, whilst he sent off Ricardo Santos (for a second time is as many seasons) for Bolton at Port Vale. That earned the ire of Matt Gilks (booked) and Ian Evatt (sent off) on the Trotters’ bench. 

In fairness, he does let games flow; he’s 49th out of 53 in terms of fouls awarded per game, with just 17 per 90 minutes across his League One outings. He’s 47th out of 53 for yellows per game, and despite those two red cards, he’s yet to award a penalty in League One. Despite that Notts County game, I expect him to let the game flow and for few yellow cards to come out of his pocket.