Ref Watch: Cambridge United (H)

Credit Graham Burrell

Assistants: Bradley Hall and William Cavanagh
Fourth Official: Ryan Williams

Tomorrow night, we see Scott Oldham 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, 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.

Under Mark Kennedy, he took charge of a couple of matches – he was incident-free again in charge of our EFL Trophy defeat against Sunderland and the defeat against Wigan in April. In that game, I felt we could have had a penalty in real time, but after watching back, I ascertained the ref was probably right. He was the ref that sent off Ben House at Derby on Valentine’s Day 2023, and finally, he was in charge of our 1-1 draw with Wycombe at the start of this unbeaten run. In that game, he dealt brilliantly with Wycombe’s time-wasting, eventually leading to us getting a last-gasp draw. We haven’t lost since.

Credit Graham Burrell

As far as referees go, Oldham is one of the more lenient – he’s 56th out of 61 for fouls awarded per game, the lowest of any official with ten or more games in League One under his belt. He’s the same position for fouls per tackle, again the lowest on the list. That should mean a free-flowing game where he isn’t the centre of attention. Yellows per game he is 60/61 as well – this is a referee who lets the little things pass him by. I’m not sure if this is worrying though – he’s 14/60 for reds per game, showing four. That said, he’s taken 12 League One games and shown four reds, but 13 in all other competitions and just shown a single one.

Despite the Oxford game, where I was furious with the referee, I’ve always found Scott Oldham to be decent and see no reason why he’ll upset that tomorrow in a game likely to be played in good spirits.