Ref Watch: Barnsley (H)

Assistants: Michael George and Anthony Moore
Fourth Official: Aaron Jackson

Simon Mather comes to Sincil Bank having been the fourth official at a Championship encounter this weekend, namely the clash between relegation-haunted Reading and Premier League-bound Burnley.  In terms of the Imps, 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. He then completed a hattrick of appearances at the Bank with a different competition – he was in charge as we crashed out of the Papa John’s Trophy on penalties.

Imps v Cheltenham – Credit Graham Burrell

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.

He’s certainly calmed down a lot – this season, he is 34/60 for fouls per game and 47/60 for fouls per tackle. They’re below-average stats, making him a referee who seems to be run-of-the-mill. He is ninth out of 60 for penalties, and just 28/60 and 30/60 for yellows and reds. He almost defines ‘average’. Those penalties, four in total, have all come since Christmas. Three have been awarded to the home teams and just one to an away side, to Shrewsbury away at Derby.