Ref Watch: Cambridge Utd (H)

Assistants: Stephen Wade and Richard Wigglesworth
Fourth Official: Wayne Grunnill

Whenever I write about Peter Wright, I’m drawn to one moment. He gave one of the most famous penalties of Lincoln City’s modern era, the leveller at Gateshead back in 2017. We went into the final minutes 1-0 down, but Sean Long’s cross was handled, and Peter Wright pointed to the spot for the second time in the game. Neither penalty could be disputed, and at the time, if you’d told me he’d be taking charge of City in League One six years later, I’d have bitten your hand off!

He spent another year in the National League before joining us in the EFL in our title-winning season. His first visit to Sincil Bank as a Football League referee came as we drew 1-1 with Port Vale on New Year’s Day 2019. On that occasion, he could have sent off Anthony Kay for them, but it wasn’t cut and dried, as I wrote: “There’s an argument he (Kay) could have seen red, but the referee chose two other targets and kept Kay on the field. It would have been harsh to dismiss him, but those with rose-tinted glasses might feel differently.” I’m certainly not averse to a referee who tries to keep the game 11v11, even if it is against us.

Imps v Port Vale – Courtesy Graham Burrell

The following season we had Wright again, this time away at Huddersfield in the EFL Cup. I seem to recall another decent display, although beating the Terriers was enough in itself. I don’t think we spoke much about Mr Wright, and that’s the mark of a good ref, right? Last season he was at the Bank once as we drew 1-1 with Rotherham, and he officiated us once away, a 1-1 draw with Fleetwood that I remember absolutely nothing at all about.

He’s had nine League One matches this season, making him one of this level’s prolific referees. He’s middle of the road for fouls per game (30 out of 57 officials) and in terms of fouls per tackle (24/30). If anything, he’s slightly more inclined to punish a tackle than most, but not to any serious extent. He’s 33/50 for yellows per game, which fits with the rest of his numbers, making him the sort of run-of-the-mill official that you tend to only notice if the game is challenging, but who fades into the background of a regular 11v11. Basically, if he officiates a Bolton game, that’s when you notice him.

In all competitions, he’s awarded five penalties this season and just sent a single player off – that coming in Sutton’s 1-0 win against Colchester. That might have been a challenging game, with a serious injury to a player and a ten-minute wait between giving a penalty and it being taken, but as a steady referee, he handled it well.