Ref Watch: Accrington Stanley H (Papa John’s Trophy)

Referee: Simon Mather
Assistant Referee: Paul Stonier, Daniel Woodward
Fourth Official: Will Finnie

We have only had Mr Mather twice before; he was in charge of our 3-0 win against Cheltenham Town last season, and again as we drew with Barrow, winning on penalties, in this year’s Carabao Cup. Up until 2021/22, he was working the National League circuit, and his only ‘appearance’ against City came as a fourth official in our game against Sunderland. He did like a red card during his time in the National League.

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 matches.

Imps v Cheltenham – Credit Graham Burrell

Last season, Mr Mather again showed more red cards than usual; in 31 matches across all competitions, he 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 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 had the third-highest number of fouls per game; 27.25. He awarded just two penalties in his eight games but still came 19th out of 60 for penalties per game.

Here’s where to worry, perhaps; he issued 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. When he came to Sincil Bank, he was on a roll: he had sent off three players in the previous 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, but after his visit to the Bank, he didn’t show another red card. Reformed, perhaps?

Perhaps. In terms of fouls per game this season, he’s 31st out of 57 in League One, so he is a run-of-the-mill official. However, in terms of yellows per game, he’s 12th, with 4.43. That suggests that whilst he isn’t as whistle-happy as some, he does still like a card. This isn’t always a bad thin – if he flashes a few early it could dampen a tasty game quickly. How often have we seen a ref eager to keep his cards in his pocket and end up ruining a good game? Too often. He’s shown a single red this season, the product of two yellows, and awarded a single penalty, in his last game (Bristol Rovers 3-4 Exeter City).