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Atkinson gets random Championship appointment - Referee
Wednesday, 28th Apr 2021 12:08 by Clive Whittingham

Premier League referee Martin Atkinson has obviously offended somebody somewhere – a dead rubber between Stoke and QPR this Saturday is his first game with Rangers since 2015.

Referee >>> Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire), last refereed QPR away at Liverpool in May 2015.

Assistants >>> Richard West (East Riding) and Nick Greenhalgh (Lancashire)

Fourth Official >>> Ben Speedie (Merseyside)

Previously

Liverpool 2 QPR 1, Saturday May 2, 2015, Premier League

With Zamora on for Henry, and Austin dropping deeper, the advantage swung firmly back to Liverpool in the space of two minutes, the time it took Onuoha to collect two yellow cards, the first for a blatant tug on Skrtel, the resulting penalty saved by Green, and then a scything tackle on Jordon Ibe, which was only ever going to earn him a red card.

Liverpool: Mignolet 6, Can 6, Skrtel 7, Lovren 6, Johnson 8 (Markovic 84, -), Gerrard 7 (Lucas 89, -), Coutinho 8, Sterling 6, Lambert 6, Lallana 7 (Ibe 68, 6) Subs not used: Moreno, Toure, Allen, Ward

Goals: Coutinho 19 (assisted Lambert), Gerrard 87 (assisted Coutinho)

Bookings: Gerrard 19 (foul), Lovren 74 (foul)

QPR: Green 7; Onuoha 6, Dunne 7, Caulker 7 (Yun 45, 7), Hill 7; Phillips 6, Barton 6, Sandro 7, Henry 6 (Zamora 71, 6); Fer 8, Austin 6 Subs not used: McCarthy, Kranjcar, Hoilett, Wright-Phillips, Grego-Cox

Goals: Fer 73 (assisted Barton)

Bookings: Sandro 42 (foul), Dunne 75 (foul), Onuoha 78 (shirt-pulling), Austin 90 (foul)

Sending-off: Onuoha 81 (decapitation)

Referee: Martin Atkinson (Yorkshire) 8 Never made himself the centre of attention, got the penalty decision right and had no choice other than to dismiss Onuoha. Stepped in calmly when Hill and Lallana got involved in a bout of verbals, and despite brandishing six yellow cards was never over-fussy.

Sunderland 0 QPR 2, Tuesday February 10, 2015, Premier League
Yun Suk-Young, back from injury and performing stoically on the left of the QPR defence, was lucky not to have a penalty awarded against him by referee Martin Atkinson when he thrust his arm up and deflected a bouncing ball in the area.

It always looked possible, particularly as Sunderland centre half Santiago Vergini seemed inexplicably keen to stand three or four yards away from the man he was supposed to be marking allowing free headers, unchallenged touches and uncontested shots in equal measure. Lone striker Bobby Zamora headed wide on two occasions from two more Phillips crosses and Seb Larsson was rightly booked for chopping down Joey Barton as he crossed the halfway line with purpose. But it looked like it would just be the one at half time, with a torturous second half of finger nail abuse to come.

Barton followed him into the book for a Premier League record seventh straight game when he pulled down Adam Johnson after allowing himself to be turned – a rare mistake in a fine captain’s knock. Three times in the same ridiculous scramble the home crowd bayed for a penalty as QPR flung limbs in front of shots, then when the resulting corner was delivered Ferdinand did seem to make contact with the ball with his arm raised above his head. Atkinson, who owes Rangers a decision or three, was unmoved. Alvarez, disgusted, was booked for leading a vehement protest delegation.

There was a fear that QPR were perhaps becoming a little ragged. Ferdinand, turning in his best performance for the club from an admittedly short list, was rightly booked for deliberately wrestling Defoe to the ground in back play preventing him from getting involved in a counter attack – but he’d kept his England colleague reasonably quiet apart from that, aided and abetted by Sunderland punting aimless long balls for the diminutive Defoe to chase forlornly.

Sunderland: Pantilimon 6; Réveillère 5 (Brown 63, 5), O’Shea 5, Vergini 3, Van Aanholt 5; Bridcutt 5; Johnson 6, Larsson 5; Gomez 5 (Alvarez 46, 6); Wickham 6 (Fletcher 82, -), Defoe 6

Subs not used: Mannone, Coates, Agnew, Graham

Bookings: Larsson (foul), Alvarez (dissent)

QPR: Green 8; Isla 6 (Doughty 85, -), Ferdinand 7, Caulker 6, Yun 7; Phillips 8 (Wright-Phillips 52, 6), Barton 8, Henry 7, Kranjcar 6; Fer 8 (Zarate 75, 6); Zamora 6

Subs not used: McCarthy, Traore, Hill, Taarabt

Goals: Fer 17 (assisted Phillips), Zamora 45 (assisted Phillips)

Bookings: Zamora (unsporting conduct), Ferdinand, Barton

Referee – Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire) 7 Overall decent control of the game and hard to argue with any of the bookings. The Ferdinand handball appeal in the second half looked dodgy but several others he got right.

Arsenal 2 QPR 1, Friday December 26, 2014, Premier League

Alexis Sanchez, the outstanding player on the pitch, was, for once, posing little threat and moving away from the goal when Traore took it upon himself to launch into a wild, out-of-control, foolhardy sliding tackle that was doomed to failure from the moment he embarked on it. Even had he succeeded in taking the ball, it was a needless risk in a non-threatening position. Predictably, he got nowhere near the football and from a neutral position Sanchez was suddenly picking the ball up and readying himself for a penalty kick. Only Traore can explain why he would do anything so obviously stupid and needless. Don't expect to see the Senegalese tattoo enthusiast on any Christmas Mastermind specials.

Fortunately Sanchez's spot kick was weak and casual, saved well by Robert Green diving down to his left under advice from Sanchez's Chilean international team mate Eduardo Vargas. Perhaps the home team had already been lulled into a false sense of security.

Welbeck's theatrical fall in the area, trying to buy another spot kick from referee Martin Atkinson - who has never been shy of persecuting Rangers in the past - suggested Arsenal were getting a little desperate but it still felt like only a matter of time before they scored.

And then, suddenly, hope, entirely of Arsenal's own doing. Only Rob Green will know why he decided to kick a through ball away when he could easily have caught it, and the keeper was lucky to see the ball hit the onrushing Giroud and rebound out for a goal kick rather than into the net. But it worked in favour of the west London side – Giroud, inexplicably, turned on Nedum Onuoha and headbutted him. A footballing headbutt (i.e. rugby league players everywhere will be laughing so hard they choke on their turkey buffet) but Martin Atkinson, two yards away, had no choice. A red card provided a lifeline for the Hoops. Wenger's death stare as Giroud left the field said it all. A foreign striker who likes the physical side of the English game when he's allowed to dole it out, but objects with an inflated sense of self importance when anybody tries to return it.

Martin Atkinson's whistle stoked the fires of hope once more. Debuchy was penalised in his own area for a foul on Hoilett when the French defender appeared to cleanly toe the ball away. Charlie Austin slammed in his twelfth goal of the season from the penalty spot, beating Szczney with power rather than placement.

Kranjcar whipped in a corner from the right which Vargas glanced towards goal and Mathieu Flamini cleared from the line with Zamora threatening to tap home. Then a delivery from the left seemed certain to provide an equaliser for the veteran target man only for Gibbs to foul him as he went to convert the chance. Having awarded a penalty that obviously wasn't, now Atkinson turned one away that clearly was.

Arsenal: Szczsney 6; Debuchy 7, Mertesacker 5, Monreal 5, Gibbs 6; Rosicky 6 (Chambers 83, -), Flamini 5, Cazorla 6; Sanchez 8, Welbeck 6 (Coquelin 88, -), Giroud 4

Subs not used: Podolski, Ospina, Walcott, Campbell, Bellerin

Goals: Sanchez 37 (assisted Gibbs), Rosicky 65 (assisted Sanchez)

Sent Off: Giroud 52 (violent conduct)

Bookings: Coquelin 90+3 (foul)

QPR: Green 6; Isla 5, Caulker 6, Ferdinand 6, Onuoha 6, Traore 2 (Hoilett 62, 5); Mutch 4 (Zamora 72, 6), Kranjcar 5, Henry 5 (Fer 62, 5); Vargas 5, Austin 6

Subs not used: McCarthy, Hill, Phillips, Wright-Phillips

Goals: Austin 79 (penalty, won Hoilett)

Bookings: Ferdinand 26 (foul), Mutch 54 (foul), Hoilett 69 (foul)

Referee – Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire) 5 The Giroud red card was a straightforward affair but he subsequently gave QPR a penalty when Debuchy committed a clean tackle, then denied the visiting team a more obvious spot kick when Zamora was fouled trying to convert a low cross. Two wrongs may equal each other out in a strange justice, but you can't get the big decisions wrong and be marked too highly.

QPR 2 Stoke City 2, Saturday September 20, 2014, Premier League

The visitors soon cottoned onto Kranjcar’s threat and decided to try and kick him out of the game. Shawcross’ vile hack through the back of the QPR man’s standing leg seven minutes from the end was disgusting, and worthy of far more than the yellow card shown by referee Martin Atkinson. Kranjcar was fortunate to get up from that one with his legs still attached and then just three minutes later he was chopped down again, this time by Steven Sidwell who’d come on for Charlie Adam with 20 minutes left for play to fill the hatchet-man role he’d previously performed on this ground for Fulham against Adel Taarabt. This time the foul was within shooting range though, and Kranjcar dusted himself down to deliver a sumptuous free kick plum into the top corner, beating the tallest wall you’re ever likely to see in this league and a fine goalkeeper in Begovic into the bargain.

Martin Atkinson is not an official either QPR or Stoke have a particularly happy history with – he was the referee for the Clint Hill goal that never was at Bolton, while last season he sent two Stoke players and their manager off in a farcical 5-1 loss at Newcastle United. But this doesn’t mean that Martin Atkinson has anything against either QPR or Stoke, it just means he’s a piss poor referee, and has been for some time.

The main bone of contention was Ryan Shawcross’ behaviour at set pieces: eyes only for Steven Caulker, right in front of the referee, with both arms wrapped around the QPR man, wrestling him out of contention. QPR complained bitterly to Atkinson before, during and after every set piece. The referee stood and looked and saw it go on and did nothing. This isn’t an interpretation of the laws, it’s just the laws not being applied correctly. When free kicks were awarded he marched the wall back ten yards, then regressed a couple of steps and put the sprayed white line down seven yards away from the ball. The game became a farce, entirely perpetuated by a referee completely out of his depth. It would have been laughable had it not been so frustrating.

Shawcross should have seen red for his smash on Kranjcar, but only received the same punishment as Leroy Fer who was booked for complaining about the severity of the tackle, and Erik Pieters on the stroke of half time – incredibly harshly – for handling a bouncing ball while attempting to attack down the left wing.

Even the first Stoke goal would have been disallowed on another day for Crouch’s obvious climb on Ferdinand’s shoulders – although the QPR man is good enough and experienced enough not to position himself so poorly in those situations.

He’s an official who in a decade in the middle has, miraculously, gained no feel for the sport whatsoever. A dreadful referee, refereeing dreadfully.

QPR: Green 6; Isla 4, Caulker 7, Ferdinand 5, Traore 6; Barton 5 (Phillips 34, 6), Mutch 6 (Henry 50, 7), Fer 6, Kranjcar 8; Vargas 6 (Zamora 70, 5), Austin 6

Subs not used: McCarthy, Onuoha, Dunne, Hoilett

Goals: Crouch og 42 (assisted Mutch/Caulker), Kranjcar 86 (free kick, won Kranjcar)

Yellow cards: Traore 73 (foul), Fer 84 (dissent)

Stoke: Begovic 6; Bardsley 6, Shawcross 6, Wilson 6, Pieters 6; Whelen 6, Adam 6 (Sidwell 70, 5), Nzonzi 7, Moses 8 (Arnautovic 79, 6); Crouch 8, Diouf 7

Subs not used: Huth, Muniesa, Assaidi, Bojan, Sorensen

Goals: Diouf 10 (assisted Moses/Crouch), Crouch 50 (assisted Moses)

Bookings: Pieters 45 (handball), Diouf 80 (foul), Shawcross 83 (foul), Sidwell 87 (foul)

Referee – Martin Atkinson 3 (West Yorkshire) Failed to apply the laws of the game correctly, turning the scene underneath QPR corners into a farce. Failed to ensure the safety of the players, allowing a late hack-a-thon against Niko Kranjcar to go relatively unpunished given the seriousness of the fouls – a more competent referee would have awarded penalties against Shawcross on several occasions, and sent him off for a disgraceful lunge on the Croatian midfielder. The kind of performance we’re coming to expect from a referee who is rated as one of the league’s best, but for me has been abject for several years now. Pathetic, unprofessional, at times dangerous mishandling of a reasonably easy fixture.

Liverpool 1 QPR 0, Sunday May 19, 2013, Premier League

After a minute at Anfield on Sunday he hacked a free header from Philippe Countinho off the line. Another referee may well have judged it in, but Clint Hill will tell you that Martin Atkinson isn't crash hot on such matters, and the scores remained level. From there the young right back grew into the game, keeping Liverpool's latest great white hope Jordan Ibe – who like Harriman has a background with Wycombe Wanderers – well under control. He fell into none of the usual traps of a young, inexperienced player given a chance on one of the game's biggest stages: there was no rashness, no diving into tackles, no headless chicken routine. He stayed on his feet, he stayed calm, and he dealt with everything that came his way.

A five man midfield wasn't enough to prevent the mercurial Coutinho floating around in acres of space and pulling strings while in third gear. He curled an early corner so close to the QPR goal Rob Green was required to flick it over and later the keeper was fortunate to be awarded a free kick by Atkinson when, at first look, he seemed to have simply dropped a routine ball into a dangerous area for what Opta later revealed to be the thirteen thousandth time this season. Another shot was deflected wide by Shaun Derry before Glen Johnson clicked through the Armand Traore-shaped turnstile and sent a lethal looking cross whistling through the six yard box. Later the right back came in field and fired over. Hill saw yellow when he decided an agricultural body check on Coutinho was a safer option than a 20 yard foot race with him and Jordan Henderson justified his decision with a tame free kick into the wall. Carragher came up for another set piece and saw a shot blocked away to meagre handball appeals.

QPR threatened sporadically. Remy, who Redknapp may have been well advised to leave at home given the gang rape allegations that now look set to condemn him to at least starting a World Cup year in the Championship, looked sharp and keen. He hit the deck in the Kop End penalty box after five minutes and while the home side would almost certainly have been given a spot kick for an identical offence at the other end Atkinson, as he has done from the first moment QPR arrived in the Premier League two years ago, showed absolutely no interest whatsoever in giving the Londoners anything at all.

QPR’s keeper was overworked and Townsend's frustration at the whole thing got the better of him when Atkinson failed to award him a free kick on the edge of the box for an obvious foul and he was booked for his reaction. Derry was also carded for chopping Fabio Borini moments after he’d replaced Ibe who was given permission to leave Harriman’s pocket in order to hit showers early.

Liverpool: Reina 6, Johnson 7, Carragher 7 (Coates 85, -), Skrtel 6, Enrique 6, Henderson 6, Lucas 6, Downing 6, Ibe 6 (Borini 64, 6), Coutinho 8 (Suso 74, 6), Sturridge 6

Subs not used: Jones, Wisdom, Coady, Assaidi

Goals: Coutinho 22 (assisted Ibe)

Bookings: Henderson 7 (foul)

QPR: Green 7, Harriman 7, Onuoha 7, Hill 6, Traore 6, Remy 6, Mbia 4 (Granero 46, 6), Derry 6, Park 5 (Hoilett 80, -), Townsend 6, Zamora 5 (Mackie 72, 6)

Subs not used: Murphy, Fabio, Ehmer, Bothroyd

Bookings: Hill 31 (foul), Derry 66 (foul), Townsend 71 (dissent)

Referee – Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire) 6 Very little to referee in an end of season game with little speed to it but still managed to be irritating with it. The Townsend booking was of the referee’s making because it was a foul on him in the first place and I’m sure he would have given the Remy penalty at the other end. Countinho’s first minute header was over the line as well.

West Brom 0 QPR 1, Tuesday January 15, 2013, FA Cup

Goalkeeper Green didn’t appear at all comfortable with his set up for that set piece – building a wall that covered neither the left nor the right side of his goal and then standing behind it so he couldn’t see the ball. Ten minutes later though the former West Ham stopper was on top form, plunging away to his left to get a strong, scooping hand on Lukaku’s powerful downward header. Then just before half time he was sharp at his near post as Thomas tried to catch him out after charging down Anton Ferdinand’s clearance with what appeared to be both hands raised above his head – referee Martin Atkinson allowed play to continue and Rangers were indebted to their stand-in goalkeeper.

There were other notable performances from the men in red shirts as well. Nedum Onuoha, another like Bothroyd whose lack of form appeared to be terminal, excelled at right back, beginning his evening by snuffing out an attack by Jerome Thomas down the right side of the QPR penalty box, and ending it with a determined attacking run that carried him past three Albion players. He was caught out once – static when he needed to be alert and mobile as Lukaku beat Ferdinand in the air – but Tal Ben Haim cynically hauled back Lukaku on the edge of the area as Thomas threatened to find him with a cross, took the yellow card for the team and then breathed again when transfer listed Graham Dorrans could only find the wall with the free kick. Dorrans and his midfield colleagues struggled to find space to breathe all night with Shaun Derry a strong presence at the heart of the QPR team once more.

Albion boss Steve Clarke tried everything he knew. A half time pep talk produced an early free kick for a foul by Faurlin on Rosenberg and a header by McAuley from Morrison’s cross that landed on the roof of the net. But Wright-Phillips and Park reset the tone by harrying Popov out of possession in his own half and crossing low for Mackie to trouble Myhill, then Thomas was booked by Atkinson for a poor challenge on the former Plymouth man. Drifting out of the competition, Clarke sent on Odemwingie for Thomas midway through the second half, and introduced Yassin El Ghanassy for Gabriel Tamas to try and turn the game back in his favour, but it was Redknapp’s changes that made the bigger difference: Wright-Phillips upping the overall work rate by replacing Cisse; Stephane Mbia stiffening the midfield when he replaced the goal scorer; and then Adel Taarabt managing to nutmeg Gareth McAuley in three minutes of added time at the end of the game with his first touch of the ball having only really been introduced to waste time. Nutmegs he does indeed still prefer.

Albion could point to the form of Green and say they deserved more from the game, and they had a chance to salvage a draw in the last minute of normal time when Atkinson harshly penalised Hill for handball on the edge of the area but Lukaku shot off target. In truth they lacked ideas and threat for much of the evening and looked tired at the end of a hectic run of fixtures that has coincided with their first serious injury crisis of the campaign. A booking for Rosenberg for another foul on Mackie suggested frustration at a number being done on them in a competition their league form and position would suggest they may have fancied a concerted attempt at winning this season. Instead it’s lowly QPR moving onto another meeting with MK Dons.

West Brom: Myhill 6, Popov 6, McAuley 6, Jones 6, Tamas 6 (El Ghanassy 81, -), Morrison 7 (Reid 90, -), Thorne 6, Dorrans 6, Thomas 6 (Odemwingie 71, 6), Rosenberg 7, Lukaku 6

Subs not used: Foster, Olsson, Ridgewell, Dawson

Bookings: Thomas 50 (foul), Rosenberg 76 (foul)

QPR: Green 8, Onuoha 8, Ferdinand 6, Hill 7, Ben Haim 7, Park 6, Derry 7, Faurlin 6, Mackie 7 (Taarabt 90, -), Bothroyd 8 (Mbia 80, -), Cisse 4 (Wright-Phillips 46, 7)

Subs not used: Murphy, Ephraim, Ehmer, Hulse

Goals: Bothroyd 75 (assisted Faurlin)

Bookings: Ben Haim 17 (foul)

Referee – Martin Atkinson ( West Yorkshire ) 8 Little to referee, one or two niggly decisions such as the late handball call on Hill but otherwise absolutely fine.

QPR 2 Fulham 1, Saturday December 15, 2012, Premier League

Rangers were on it right from the first whistle, marching to the tune of the Great Escape which rolled down from the stands at a packed Loftus Road . Within a minute and 30 seconds of the kick off Djibril Cisse had accelerated towards goal onto a through ball from Taarabt and hit the deck in the penalty area after a brief wrestling match with Aaron Hughes. The Fulham man looked unable to cope with his opponent’s pace and the home team screamed for a penalty but referee Martin Atkinson, rightly, waved the appeals away. It looked like six of one and half a dozen of another to me.

The caretaker back at Craven Cottage probably heard the groan that greeted the miss, and I think it affected Mackie for the next ten or 15 minutes at least, but his team mates carried on in the same vein. Taarabt burst past two and shot straight at Schwarzer then when Chris Baird barged over Stephane Mbia as he threatened to run through on goal – a foul that really warranted more than just the ticking off Atkinson delivered – Cisse found the wall with two powerful shots and Taarabt hit a third effort wide via a deflection. Those two were certainly combining better than any other striker partnership Rangers have tried this season.

Ridiculously, considering not only some of the bad challenges he allowed to go without a card or even a warning, Martin Atkinson showed his first yellow of the afternoon to Taarabt for over celebrating. Considering he didn’t remove his shirt, or hurdle any advertising hoardings to get into the crowd, which seems to be the two interpretations of this joyless, draconian, pointless, evil law of the game it seemed even harsher and more pedantic than usual.

That would have lifted the roof off this tiny, atmospheric stadium but the crowd was well into the game by this point anyway and they bayed for blood – or at least a yellow card – as Steve Sidwell hauled down Adel Taarabt and then chopped down Shaun Wright-Phillips without receiving so much as a word on the run from Atkinson. The mood only darkened when the ginger haired Fulham midfielder fell theatrically to ground to win his own free kick at the other end which Mladen Petric – sent on for the ineffective Kieran Richardson - smacked straight at Rob Green.

Taarabt is unplayable when he’s like this, and having nutmegged Sidwell for the umpteenth time to draw a fifth foul of the afternoon from his demoralised opponent even Atkinson was forced to concede defeat in his attempt to allow the Fulham man to referee the game and issued a yellow card that brought a cheer almost as loud as the one that met the second goal. Bizarrely, two minutes later, Ashkan Dejagah committed his first offence since replacing Hugo Rodallega five minutes previously and was booked immediately. Now I appreciate that it’s the seriousness of the offence that determines the punishment, and not the time a player has been on the pitch or the number of previous infringements, but I didn’t think Dejagah’s trip on Ale Faurlin was anything worse than Sidwell had done several times over for the previous hour. Rodallega too had committed three similar fouls in quick succession immediately after half time without being spoken to and yet having done everything in his power not to book two other Fulham players Atkinson was now flashing a yellow card at another for little reason whatsoever and just to really put the tin hat on it all Sidwell then hacked Taarabt to the floor yet again just five minutes after being booked and was once more let off without a word from the official. A poor refereeing performance from an official who really seems to have lost all form and confidence during 2012.

QPR: Green 6, Onuoha 7, Nelsen 7, Hill 7, Traore 7, Wright-Phillips 7 (Fabio 85, -), Faurlin 8, Mbia 8, Mackie 6, Taarabt 9, Ciise 7 (Ferdinand 90, -)

Subs not used: Cesar, Derry , Diakite, Granero, Hoilett

Goals: Taarabt 52 (assisted Faurlin), 68 (unassisted)

Bookings: Taarabt 52 (overcelebrating)

Fulham: Schwarzer 5, Riether 6 (Kelly 45, 6), Hangeland 5, Hughes 5, Riise 6, Duff 6, Sidwell 5, Baird 5, Richardson 5 (Petric 63, 7), Berbatov 6, Rodallega 6 (Dejagah 72, 5)

Subs not used: Etheridge, Senderos, Karagounis, Kacaniklic

Goals: Petric 88 (unassisted)

Bookings: Sidwell 75 (repetitive fouling), Dejagah 77 (foul)

Referee – Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire) 5 Now as I’ve said plenty of times before I’m all for a referee keeping his cards in his pocket and trying to allow a game to flow, staying out of the action and letting the players get on with it, and I presume that’s what Atkinson was trying to do here. What he actually did was create a bit of a farce where Steve Sidwell was allowed to rampage around the field doing pretty much as he pleased while Adel Taarabt and Ashkan Dejagah were immediately booked for much less serious offences. Whether you think he got the Cisse decision right in the opening minute or not – I think he was correct not to give a foul – this was a distinctly average refereeing performance overall.

Stoke 1 QPR 0, Saturday November 10, 2012, Premier League

Of course one thing Rangers could have done without was conceding needless free kicks around their own penalty box. Still, it was hard not to feel sorry for Samba Diakite on the half hour when he was penalised for what looked like a not very well disguised dive by Matt Etherington, making a first start for Stoke since August. Fortunately for Rangers on this occasion Cesar got a firm punch to Whelen’s cross and the follow up shot was blocked away by some desperate defence by Anton Ferdinand.

This wasn’t the first or the last time that I felt referee Martin Atkinson had lazily awarded a free kick because a player had gone over rather than bothering to question whether he’d actually been fouled or not and soon both teams had players hitting the deck under little or no contact at all. Within three minutes Cissé collected the ball on halfway, turned it round the corner into space down the right flank and set off in pursuit of it himself. Andy Wilkinson knew the Frenchman had him for pace and so flung himself to the floor as if Cissé had tripped him while attempting to get around him. He’d done nothing of the sort, the incident was laughable, and yet there was Atkinson again obliging the sinner with a free kick for his troubles. Never mind punishing divers retrospectively, let’s stop rewarding the cheats in the first instance.

Stoke’s best chance of the half came ten minutes before half time. Steven Nzonzi – leggy, physical, impressive – got in round the back of flat footed Faurlin and picked out Crouch with a well placed low cut back. Crouch side footed powerfully towards goal and his shot deflected no more than three inches wide with Cesar well beaten. Rangers cleared the resulting corner and launched a counter attack through Adel Taarabt and Ale Faurlin. The latter was fouled by Nzonzi and then, after a quick free kick had been taken, Taarabt was immediately chopped to the ground on the edge of the area by Walters. It’s this sort of cynicism that Stoke are renowned for and QPR have lacked to their cost since winning promotion 18 months ago. Nobody scores a goal on the counter attack if they’re laid on the ground picking grass out of their teeth. No yellow card from Atkinson for either Nzonzi or Walters needless to say and when Djibril Cissé drilled a tapped free kick low into the wall the home team could reflect on a job well done.

The Londoners had decent cause to be angry with referee Atkinson again before the break. Jon Walters picked up a gash to his forehead amidst another round of penalty box pinball and sat on the turf with blood pouring down his face. This was in clear view of the linesman on that side of the field who is in contact with the referee but nevertheless, despite the edict on head injuries, Atkinson was happy for the game to continue. Stoke were happy too, because despite their team mate being down they had the ball in a decent attacking position and so they pressed on, with Atkinson content for play to continue, and tried to score. When the play was subsequently broken up by Ryan Nelsen the referee then decided, with Stoke previously happy to play on remember and with QPR now in a position to try and exploit a team temporarily reduced to ten men, that the play should be stopped. To make the whole nonsense even more irritating Peter Crouch decided to punt the resulting drop ball out for a goal kick – which Cesar isn’t the best at – rather than knocking the ball back to the keeper in open play.

Stoke: Begovic 7, Cameron 5, Huth 6, Shawcross 6, Wilkinson 7, Whelen 5, Nzonzi 7, Adam 6 (Whitehead 77, 5), Etherington 6 (Kightly 71, 6), Crouch 6 (Jones 74, 5), Walters 5

Goals: Adam 52 (assisted Walters/Crouch)

Bookings: Nzonzi 65 (foul), Whitehead 90 (foul)

QPR: Cesar 6, Bosingwa 4, Ferdinand 6, Nelsen 6, Traore 5, Granero 6, Faurlin 5 (Zamora 77, 5), Diakite 5, Hoilett 6, Taarabt 7, Cissé 5

Subs not used: Green, Hill, Onuoha, Derry , Wright-Phillips, Mackie

Bookings: Diakite 45 (foul), Traore 83 (foul), Granero 90 (dissent)

Referee – Martin Atkinson ( West Yorkshire ) 6 No big decisions to make, and therefore no big decisions wrong, so hard to mark him too harshly. However, I thought this was a pretty mediocre, bog standard performance. He rewarded dives from both sides and made a real hash of the Walters head injury situation before half time.

Bolton 2 QPR 1, Saturday March 10, 2012, Premier League

When they did then beat Bogdan moments later they fell victim to the first in a series of dire decisions from our match referee Martin Atkinson and his two Scouse assistants Bob Pollock and Jake Collin. There were arguments even before the crucial corner was taken – first over whether it was a corner at all as Nedum Onuoha appeared to get the final touch on Joey Barton’s free kick, and then over the placing of the ball with Barton engaging in the latest obnoxious trend of placing the ball outside the corner quadrant for no other reason or advantage than to wind people up. When the set piece was delivered it was met powerfully at the near post by Hill who scored with a thumping header that Bogdan clawed out from two feet behind the line onto the underside of the crossbar.

It was a goal. You could see from the other end of the stadium it was a goal – the very large Hungarian man with the shocking ginger hair and bright pink jumper leaning two feet into his own goal to fish the ball out was a massive clue. Pollock kept his flag down, then lied about there being two players obstructing his view when QPR asked what in the name of all that’s fucking good in the world he was playing at. Unless, a la the Hollywood film, Pollock has a sixth sense and often finds his vision obstructed by spirits of the dead then the only thing in the way here was his own crass incompetence. He’d be up at dawn for 50 lashings if I was in charge.

While the away end came alive with texts from people watching at home confirming an injustice had occurred the game slipped into a monotonous malaise during which Wheater was penalised for pushing as he headed another set piece towards goal, Wright-Phillips dribbled a shot wide of the post and former Swansea midfielder Darren Pratley was booked by Atkinson for a foul on Samba Diakite. That last one is an important moment to make a note of as Atkinson’s steadfast refusal to show Pratley a second yellow card thereafter would also be another key talking point later.

The teams exchanged half chances around the 30 minute mark. Pratley had a long range shot deflect past Paddy Kenny but wide of the top corner then Wheater headed the resulting corner straight to the goalkeeper. The former Middlesbrough defender was then booked for a cynical shirt pull on Djibril Cisse after the Frenchman had skinned him for pace and Bobby Zamora saw a presentable chance in the six yard box taken off his toe as he was about to pull the trigger. No yellow card however for David Ngog who, ten minutes before half time, took a tumble in the penalty area so unconvincing I was ashamed on his behalf.

Clint Hill had been the defender on that occasion, no doubt relieved not to be conned out of a penalty as he had been against Chelsea in January, and he was involved again seven minutes from half time when he was pulled to the ground by Pratley in the left back area. Atkinson somehow decreed that the free kick should go to Bolton.

In stoppage time at the end of the half Diakite, much more composed and impressive than he had been during his disastrous debut against Fulham, went on an enterprising run through the heart of the Bolton team that was interrupted deliberately and cynically by Pratley who grabbed the Mali international’s shirt with both hands and prevented him from continuing with his run. The absolute definition of a yellow card but Martin Atkinson awarded just a free kick and laughed off suggestions that further punishment may be forthcoming. Ha ha ha, yes, very funny indeed.

Things didn’t get better for the officials after half time either. First there was the unprecedented situation of having both the teams on the field, in formation, ready to kick the game off for the best part of two minutes before the referee and his assistants made it back out onto the pitch. I suspect, given the strange sport that we follow, they’re more likely to be hauled over the coals for this than any of the dreadful decisions they made during the game – the match official’s report on the game would have made for interesting reading had, for the sake of argument, two of the players become embroiled in a fight or argument while they were pissballing about doing whatever the hell it was they were doing in the dressing room. Let’s say, for example, that Diakite had come out for the second half angry about the Pratley incident and sought him out for an argument prior to kick off that descended into a bout of fisticuffs. Atkinson would have emerged from the tunnel to find a mass brawl taking place, potentially a player bleeding from the face, and not the first idea what had actually happened or what he could do about it. A disgraceful denigration of duty.

Within 120 seconds of the restart Atkinson and his mates on the touchlines had cocked up again.Djibril Cisse, standing offside, received a deflected pass from Shaun Wright-Phillips and ran through to finish an equaliser off confidently past Bogdan in front of the travelling QPR fans. He was offside, miles offside, by any definition of the law. Jake Collin kept his flag down. I was starting to wonder whether our team of officials actually knew the rules of the sport at all. They were humiliating themselves now.

There was another half chance for Cisse before the hour when Diakite played him in but his shot was too weak to trouble Bogdan, then Ricketts cut in field and made the most of Joey Bartonturning his back on the play to launch a long range effort that skimmed across the roof of the net. Atkinson then kept up his average of one ludicrous decision every ten minutes by waving play on after Ferdinand had been hacked down from behind on halfway then awarding Bolton a free kick and showing Onuoha a yellow card when he did likewise to Pertrov. That was a literally stunning piece of officiating and unfortunately the injury that resulted from it did little to improve what was already Ferdinand’s worst performance for the club.

Three minutes late Diakite was deliberately taken out as he ran through the Bolton midfield again. Let me check my notes to see who committed that foul. Pratley apparently it says here, you may have heard of him before. This was beyond a joke now and Atkinson thought so too – issuing a very stern lecture presumably telling Pratley that he would only be allowed to do that three or four more times at most before he’d speak to him very sternly again.

Having failed, one again, to do his job of officiating the match correctly Atkinson opened a window of opportunity to Bolton manager Owen Coyle who substituted Pratley immediately and replaced him with striker Ivan Klasnic. Klasnic scored at Loftus Road in a 4-0 Bolton win on the opening day of the season and how he cannot get into this team from the start I do not understand. His introduction came about by accident, and wouldn’t have happened had Pratley been sent off when he should have been. Ten minutes later Barton allowed Klasnic to run past him unfollowed, and a porous defence which has conceded at least one per game for 19 consecutive matches parted like the Red Sea to allow him to score the winning goal from Miyaichi’s cute through ball.

Hughes had made changes of his own prior to that, finally sending on Jamie Mackie and Akos Buzsaky for Shaun Derry and Shaun Wright-Phillips. Armand Traore limped off to be replaced by Tae Taiwo in a triple swap. This almost brought about immediate results – Mackie ran with purpose towards the area and fed Cisse who crossed back towards the former Plymouth man who was denied a close range finish by David Wheater’s last ditch header. The ball dropped first to Buzsaky and then to Diakite who had low shots blocked and finally to Mackie who poked it towards the open goal from four yards out but Wheater flung himself in the way to deflect the ball behind and safety. Martin Atkinson awarded a goal kick. As you would expect.

Injury time at the end of the game brought about more farce. Diakite had a taste of the Pratley-type leniency when first he pulled back Ryo Miyaichi and was carded – Miyaichi and Davies were the two stand out performers for the home team – and then he did exactly the same thing again in injury time but was let off without a second yellow.

Then finally, to really put the tin hat on it all, Bolton survived a handball appeal and blatant foul onNedum Onuoha in their own penalty area without punishment. Atkinson brought the low point of his refereeing career to an end moments later. Bolton were out of the bottom three, replaced by their hapless visitors who must now surely be staring the Championship square in the face.

Bolton: Bogdan 7, Steinsson 6, Wheater 6, Ream 5, Ricketts 6, Reo-Coker 5, Mark Davies 7, Pratley 6 (Klasnic 80, -), Miyaichi 7, Ngog 6 (Muamba 89, -), Petrov 6 (Eagles 71, 6)

Subs Not Used: Jaaskelainen, Knight, Kevin Davies, Sordell

Booked: Pratley (foul), Wheater (foul)

Goals: Pratley 37 (assisted Petrov), Klasnic 86 (assisted Miyaichi)

QPR: Kenny 6, Onuoha 6, Ferdinand 5, Hill 6, Traore 6 (Taiwo 79, -), Barton 5, Diakite 6, Derry 5 (Buzsaky 79, -), Wright-Phillips 4 (Mackie 80, -), Cisse 7, Zamora 7

Subs Not Used: Cerny, Gabbidon, Bothroyd, Young

Booked: Onuoha (foul), Diakite (foul)

Goals: Cisse 48 (assisted Wright-Phillips)

Referee: Martin Atkinson ( W Yorkshire ) 0 Shambolic. Not a single decision correct. Couldn’t even make it out on time for the start of the second half.

Arsenal 1 QPR 0, Saturday January 31, 2011, Premiership

QPR’s encouraging start had rather melted away by this point, and the difficulty in trying to play Arsenal at their own passing game was shown when Joey Barton collected a seventh yellow card of the campaign for a foul on Mikel Arteta that actually came when Rangers were in possession and trying to play out from the back.

Referee Martin Atkinson had officiated quite calmly to this point, despite the best attempts of both linesmen who seemed incapable of getting even the simplest decision correct. Further incompetence from them ten minutes before half time saw Armand Traore rewarded for another fine piece of defending on Walcott with the award of a corner when it was clearly a goal kick. The subsequent delivery fell to Laurent Koscielny on the edge of the area and he cracked a loose ball towards goal but saw his shot palmed away by Luke Young for what should have been a penalty kick but Atkinson, five yards away, waved play on. A further handball penalty appeal moments later, again against Young, was rightly ignored.

Arsenal rightly felt aggrieved by this, but seemed to lose their composure as a result. Quick fire bookings followed for Vermaelen for pulling Wright-Phillips back during an attack that Atkinson had initially allowed to proceed regardless, and Johan Djourou for kicking Joey Barton.

Walcott picked himself up to produce his unbelievable one on one miss but four minutes later, on the hour, Wright-Phillips’ brain explosion handed Arsenal the killer goal. It was a pass played without looking, into the right back area where no right back was stationed. It was a slack piece of play, coming just after Arsenal had replaced the injured Vermaelen with Francis Coquelin during a stop start period of the game – concentration was the issue here. Arshavin fed Van Persie and he swept the ball home. A single lapse in thought process in an otherwise improved Wright-Phillips performance and Rangers were behind. It should be noted though that 30 seconds prior to it all, at the other end of the field, QPR had seen a corner awarded as a goal kick to Neil Warnock’s absolute astonishment and fury. You expect better of Wright-Phillips, but you expect better of Premiership match officials as well.

Ale Faurlin’s inconsistent passing form continued as we moved past the 70 minute mark. First he produced a superb through ball for Taarabt who appeared to be hauled back in the area but Atkinson wasn’t convinced enough by a theatrical fall to award a penalty. Then the Argentine carelessly conceded possession and set up an Arsenal counter attack that ended with Ramsey shooting over the bar. Faurlin is a man often doing two jobs at the heart of the QPR midfield at the moment with Barton in poor form, he desperately needs a Premiership quality Shaun Derry type player alongside him.

Arsenal: Szczesny 7, Djourou 6, Mertesacker 7, Koscielny 7, Vermaelen 7 (Coquelin 54, 6), Song 6, Arteta 6, Walcott 5 (Gervinho 74, 7), Ramsey 8, Arshavin 5 (Rosicky 67, 6), van Persie 8

Subs Not Used: Almunia, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chamakh, Benayoun

Booked: Vermaelen (foul), Djourou (foul)

Goals: van Persie 60 (unassisted)

QPR: Cerny 7, Young 7, Connolly 6, Gabbidon 6, Traore 7 (Orr 77, -), Faurlin 6, Barton 6, Mackie 5 (Smith 74, 6), Taarabt 7, Wright-Phillips 6, Bothroyd 6 (Campbell 64, 5)

Subs Not Used: Murphy, Hill, Derry , Helguson

Booked: Barton (foul), Young (foul)

Referee: Martin Atkinson ( W Yorkshire ) 5 Overall the refereeing itself was mediocre. Both sides should have been awarded penalties, Arsenal for the Young handball and QPR for the blatant tug on Adel Taarabt, and the Arsenal goal came when Rangers should have been preparing to take a corner kick at the other end. But on that occasion, and many others, Martin Atkinson was badly let down by two woefully inadequate assistants. This is déjà vous for the Yorkshire official who was in charge at Loftus Road earlier this season when Shaun Wright-Phillips had a goal disallowed for offside incorrectly.

QPR 1 West Brom 1, Saturday December 3, 2011, Premiership

Then, the controversial moment of the game. Three minutes after taking the lead QPR believed they had a crucial second goal that would have set them up for a comfortable afternoon and three points. Rangers strung ten passes together with Faurlin and Barton at the heart of it all again. The Argentinean finished the move with a fine ball in behind the Baggies defence for Wright-Phillips, who’d produced an eye catching turn and dribble earlier in the move, to run onto and finish brilliantly into the top corner. The flag had long since been raised. Incorrectly. Olsson had played Wright-Phillips on, QPR had been conned.

They say these things even themselves up over the course of the season. In this case they almost evened out in a quarter of an hour because later in the half Heidar Helguson picked up the ball in the area, three yards offside at least, but was allowed to continue and chipped an ambitious shot onto the roof of the net.

Mackie smacked a long range shot over the bar on the counter attack and Helguson continued his excellent afternoon’s work with a vital clearing header from the visitors’ first corner of the game as we passed the midway point of the first half. Morrison rode a missed tackle from Barton, who was later subjected to a roughhouse tackle from Jerome Thomas that produced the game’s first yellow card, and shot straight at Cerny.

Referee Martin Atkinson added two minutes on at the end of the half, in which both teams seemed to revel in a farcical, end-to-end 120 seconds of football. First Shaun Wright-Phillips nodded a presentable chance wide of an open goal after Ben Foster had foolishly come out for a high ball he was never going to reach, then Shane Long seized on a long Foster kick and headed for the penalty area with QPR forced to scramble the ball out for a corner. There was still time for a counter attack from that set piece and Jamie Mackie would have run through on goal onto Wright-Phillips’ pass with a better first touch. Then it was time to pause for breath.

West Brom started the second half the stronger of the two teams. Long set about Rangers within the first 60 seconds and fed the ball wide to Thomas who tested Cerny at the near post. Then Morrison crashed to earth in the penalty area looking for a spot kick but his half hearted appeals were ignored by Martin Atkinson.

For all of that though, QPR should have tied the game up three minutes after the break. Steven Reid, rightly picked out as the West Brom weak link in the LFW pre-match preview, was caught in on the ball by Faurlin and Barton then closed down Olsson’s attempt at a clearance. Helguson seized possession and returned it immediately to Barton who drew Foster and then fired wide of the open goal when it seemed easier to score. Reid’s frustration grew when he then picked up a yellow card for chopping down Traore when he seemed to get a piece of the ball.

A goal wrongly disallowed, three absolute sitters missed, other chances left begging - it was impossible not to conclude that we’d seen this film before and knew where it was going to end. QPR did their best for the visitors around the hour by conceding a series of set pieces around the edge of their own penalty box – Dorrans found the wall with a direct one, Gareth McAuley nodded a cross from the Scot wide from a more considered move that involved a flick on from Jerome Thomas. Roy Hodgson sent on Peter Odemwingie for Thomas and Somen Tchoyi for Dorrans as the quest to chase the game became more desperate.

QPR: Cerny 7, Young 6, Gabbidon 6, Ferdinand 6, Traore 7, Mackie 7, Barton 7, Faurlin 8, Wright-Phillips 7, Bothroyd 6 (Buzsaky 74, 5), Helguson 8

Subs Not Used: Putnins, Orr, Hill, Derry , Taarabt, Smith

Goals: Helguson 20 (assisted Barton)

West Brom: Foster 7, Reid 6, Olsson 6, McAuley 6, Shorey 6, Thomas 6 (Odemwingie 65, 7), Dorrans 7 (Tchoyi 78, 6), Mulumbu 8 (Scharner 83, -), Morrison 7, Brunt 7, Long 7

Subs Not Used: Fulop, Dawson, Jones, Cox

Booked: Long, Thomas, Reid

Goals: Long 81

Referee: Martin Atkinson ( W Yorkshire ) 8 Overall I thought the refereeing was very good on Saturday. Atkinson didn’t get a major decision wrong, allowed the game to flow and stayed out of the spotlight for the most part. The problem is the big decision of the match was the Shaun Wright-Phillips offside goal which turned out to be the incorrect decision, made by the linesman on the South Africa Road side of the ground. Points off for that, but not really Atkinson’s fault – perhaps it’s time to introduce linesman ratings to these reports as well.

QPR 2 Man City 3, Saturday November 5, 2011, Premiership

That awesome City starting 11 meant that despite playing at home QPR were as long as 9/1 to win with some bookmakers. Rather unsportingly the William Hill next to Goldhawk Road tube was promoting a “Manchester City to win 4-0, Sergio Aguero to score first” bet in its window – with a depressingly low return for your £10 stake on offer. Last time referee Martin Atkinson was at Loftus Road Rangers were beaten by that scoreline against a meagre Bolton side currently fighting relegation. All informed opinion pointed towards a repeat under the lights and West London fireworks that littered the night sky. Atkinson was the referee for City’s FA Cup final win in May – they’re first trophy for 35 years, in all likelihood the first of many.

QPR were playing very well, and Manchester City responded to this around the midway of the half in the same way Chelsea had done – by losing discipline and conceding silly free kicks. The result was the same as it was against our West London neighbours; a 1-0 lead for the home side. Barry went first, needlessly shoving Faurlin to the ground when the Argentinean had been playing with his back to goal with few options for a pass. Barton took that one quickly, threading a ball through to the edge of the area where Helguson also looked like he’d been chopped down right on the whitewash but Atkinson played on as Wright Phillips tried to scramble a chance with the loose ball. City cleared to the right but then found themselves on the end of another refereeing decision as Jay Bothroydtripped over his own feet and the linesman signalled for a foul. That decisions was clearly wrong, but given that QPR could and probably should have been lining up a free kick on the very cusp of the penalty area City probably thought they’d got away lightly.

QPR were playing very well, and Manchester City responded to this around the midway of the half in the same way Chelsea had done – by losing discipline and conceding silly free kicks. The result was the same as it was against our West London neighbours; a 1-0 lead for the home side. Barry went first, needlessly shoving Faurlin to the ground when the Argentinean had been playing with his back to goal with few options for a pass. Barton took that one quickly, threading a ball through to the edge of the area where Helguson also looked like he’d been chopped down right on the whitewash but Atkinson played on as Wright Phillips tried to scramble a chance with the loose ball. City cleared to the right but then found themselves on the end of another refereeing decision as Jay Bothroydtripped over his own feet and the linesman signalled for a foul. That decisions was clearly wrong, but given that QPR could and probably should have been lining up a free kick on the very cusp of the penalty area City probably thought they’d got away lightly.

Richards had received no reward for his flagrant cheating earlier in the half, and Jamie Mackie got nothing from the match officials for his naïve honesty on the hour. Savic stood off and allowed him to turn, and then lunged foolishly in as Mackie entered the penalty area – as you would expect of young Jamie he stayed on his feet when a penalty would surely have been forthcoming had he gone over. Wolves were left to bemoan the same fate against Wigan on Sunday when Steven Hunt rode a tackle from Ali Al-Habsi but received nothing in return. If we’re to stamp diving out in our game then as well as punishing the perpetrators we must reward the honest players with free kicks and penalties when they do ride challenges that are still fouls.

Mancini slung on Mario Balotelli for Gareth Barry but the controversial Italian succeeded only in collecting a yellow card for diving in the penalty box – the correct decision, but less of a dive than Richards’ embarrassing effort earlier. Neil Warnock responded by sending on Jason Puncehon forJay Bothroyd – an odd change that brought no positive affect at all. Joey Barton was perhaps fortunate to only see yellow for a crude lunge on Silva – a further sign that perhaps the QPR lungs had gone.

QPR: Kenny 7, Young 6, Gabbidon 6, Ferdinand 7, Traore 7 (Hill 90, -), Mackie 7 (Smith 84, -), Barton 7, Faurlin 9, Wright-Phillips 7, Bothroyd 8 (Puncheon 76, 5), Helguson 9

Subs Not Used: Murphy, Orr, Derry , Andrade

Booked: Barton (foul)

Goals: Bothroyd 28 (assisted Barton), Helguson 69 (assisted Traore/Bothroyd)

Man City: Hart 8, Richards 7, Savic 5, Lescott 6, Kolarov 8, Barry 6 (Balotelli 75, 6), Y Toure 8, Milner 7, Silva 8, Aguero 6 (Johnson 68, 6), Dzeko 8 (Toure 88, -)

Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Nasri, Clichy

Booked: Balotelli (diving)

Goals: Dzeko 43 (unassisted), Silva 52 (assisted Dzeko), Y Toure 74 (assisted Kolarov)

Referee: Martin Atkinson ( W Yorkshire ) 8 Refereeing that contributed to the ebb and flow of a tremendous game. Both cards were justified and although City can say the free kick for Bothroyd’s goal should never have been given, and QPR can point to the Jamie Mackie penalty incident, at normal speed at the time neither decision looked wrong. Probably the best refereeing display we’ve seen this season.

For appointments prior to this date please click here.

Stats

The experienced official joined the league list in 2003/04 and has been a Premier League referee since 2005/06. Bar three cup matches, all of which involved Premier League teams, this is the first of Atkinson’s 27 appointments this season not to be in the top flight. He hasn’t been in the middle since the Bournemouth 0-3 Southampton FA Cup quarter final on March 20 so perhaps an injury recovery is the reason for the drop down to a nothing Championship fixture this weekend – it’s his first game at this level since the Brentford 1-2 Fulham play-off final last year, and his first regular Championship league game since September 2017 when he had Bristol City 4-1 Derby. His 26 appointments this season have brought light totals of 63 yellows and just two reds. In three of his last seven games he hasn’t shown a card at all.


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