Ref Watch: Derby County (A)

Credit Graham Burrell

Referee: Scott Oldham
Assistant Referee: Lisa Rashid and Christopher Husband
Fourth Official: Richard Wigglesworth

Once again, the referee took centre stage this weekend, and it would be harsh to say he was poor. Bristol Rovers are clearly a difficult team to officiate, and whilst he did make minor errors, on the whole, Tom Reeves wasn’t that bad.

Tomorrow night, we see Scott Oldham once again, an official who graduated from the National League around the same time as us. He was on the National League roster in 2016/17 but did not take charge of one of our games. The first time we came across him was in our 1-0 win at Swindon in the 2017/18 season, before he visited Sincil Bank for the first time later in the season as we beat Newport 3-1. Both games saw him book two Imps players, but the red card stayed in his pocket again, and the penalty spot wasn’t troubled.

Oldham was something of a lucky charm for us; the following season, we saw him once as we beat Yeovil 1-0 at the Bank, thanks to Mark O’Hara’s header. In 34 matches that year, he sent off just one player and booked 99. It’s fair to say when he can, his cards stay in his pocket, although in 2019/20, he did brandish five in his 32 games, including a little spell of four in eight games. He did appear in the middle of a City game twice. We were beaten 3-1 at Doncaster in the EFL Trophy, and he controlled our 3-2 win against Burton Albion. We did see him in charge of Ben Coker’s only game in a Lincoln shirt; the 3-0 victory against Rotherham United in the EFL Trophy.

Oldham watching on as we play Sunderland – Credit Graham Burrell

He officiated us on a couple of occasions under Appleton post-Covid. The first was our 2-1 defeat at Oxford, where he didn’t impress me. I was angry in that game after he missed a blatant penalty against us but levelled it up with a handball missed in their goal. Then he could (and should) have sent their keeper off, turning in an inconsistent display. He also took charge of our final day 0-0 final day draw with Wimbledon, a game notable for having nothing of note occur in it. Last season he was incident-free again with us, taking charge of our EFL Trophy defeat against Sunderland and the defeat against Wigan in April – the last team to beat us at Sincil Bank in the Football League. In that game, I felt we could have had a penalty in real-time, but after watching back ascertained the ref was probably right.

Oldham has had 26 matches this season in all competitions, including the recent FA Cup tie between Burnley and Ipswich. He’s only issued a single red, and that was for two yellows, so don’t expect anything quite as dramatic as Saturday’s flashpoint. So far this season, he has had nine matches at this level and is 14/58 for fouls per game, with a similar average to Tom Reeves. Like Reeves, he is also further down the yellow cards per game table (30/58), suggesting a referee who isn’t afraid to give a foul, but likes his cards unused where possible. He’s only given three penalties in all competitions this season and only one in our league – awarded to Bristol Rovers as they beat MK Dons 1-0, and went above us in the table as a result.

I bet Barton didn’t moan about that.