STUART ATTWELL will be hoping to avoid any further controversy when he takes charge of Town’s game at Scunthorpe tonight.
The 26-year-old from Nuneaton made history earlier this season by becoming the youngest man ever to take charge of a Premier League match (Blackburn v Hull in August).
But he hit the headlines in less pleasing circumstances in September, when he awarded Reading their infamous phantom goal in a 2-2 Championship draw at Watford.
Acting on the flag of assistant Nigel Bannister, Attwell gave the goal even though the ball actually went four yards wide.
There was more controversy in November, when Attwell took charge of the East Midlands derby between Derby and Nottingham Forest.
He disallowed two apparently legitimate Derby goals in the final few minutes, booked eight players and issued a straight red card to Forest midfielder Lewis McGugan in a Championship game which finished 1-1.
Attwell was dragged back into the spotlight in March, when he showed two red and seven yellow cards in West Ham’s 1-0 Premier League win at Wigan.
He sent off Carlton Cole for two marginal yellow-card offences, but failed to dismiss Lucas Neill for a dangerous tackle on Wigan’s Lee Cattermole then subsequently failed to control the players after sending off Cattermole for a tackle on Scott Parker.
Wigan’s former Town manager Steve Bruce said: “The game was ruined as a spectacle. In my opinion, Mr Attwell is not ready to step up to the plate.”
Attwell, who has been fast-tracked through the leagues after first refereeing in 1998, has taken charge of 27 games so far this season, issuing 80 yellow cards and eight reds.
His only other Town appointment was for last season’s 1-0 home win over Bournemouth, when then-Galpharm manager Andy Ritchie rated his performance as “excellent”.
Greater Manchester’s Karl Evans will referee Town’s home game against Carlisle on Monday.