Ref-Watch: Watford (A)

HE'S BACK. After a lengthy sabbatical, JSK is back to his old ref-watching ways. Let's get the lowdown on KEITH STROUD in time for kick-off at Vicarage Road, as Reading hope to return to winning ways against a Watford side undefeated under new manager Giuseppe Sannino.

Formerly on the Premier League referee roster from 2007-2009, 44-year-old Kieth now officiates at the lower end of the English league spectrum.

Based in Gillingham, Dorset, he has overseen a total of 21 games this term, including 5 cup ties and 7 Championship clashes, the latest of which was Forest's Boxing Day victory over QPR. Over those 21 games, he has almost managed to secure a century of yellow cards: prior to this afternoon, Stroud has produced a yellow card on a staggering 95 occasions, meaning he's roughly averaging 4.5 yellows per match.

In the Championship alone, on top of 2 red cards, he has racked up 35 yellows in 7 games, resulting in an even more alarming (and round) average of 5 yellows per match. In Derby's 5-1 drubbing of Millwall at the New Den alone, he booked 8 players and sent off another: Lions left-back Shane Lowry.

The sole Championship penalty that Keith has awarded this season came in Championship top goalscorer Ross McCormack's müllering of Charlton in November: his converted spot-kick meaning that he scored all 4 of Leeds' goals in a 4-2 victory for Brian McDermott's side. Curiously, on the subject of the Whites, 3 out of the 7 Championship matches Stroud has partaken in this season have been Leeds fixtures.

Of even greater interest is Keith Stroud's refereeing record of Royal fixtures. Particularly astute fans will remember it was Keith who was witness to Spurs' 6-4 win over us in our final game of 2007, during our first Premier League spell. Similarly to Ross McCormack above, a certain Bulgarian by the name of Berbatov bagged 4 goals against us in a bizarre encounter. Any readers wishing to relive the madness of that day can do so here, with the BBC's match report.

Stroud has only ever served up two red cards against Reading, and both have come in more recent times: during the same season...and to the same player, former captain Matt Mills. In two away matches within the space of two months during 2010, Mills was dismissed twice, and both times by Keith Stroud - first for a handball against Doncaster in a 2-1 win at the Keepmoat, and then for a two-footed lunge in the 30th minute against the Tractor Boys' David Norris, as we slipped to a 2-1 defeat at Ipswich.

As a side note, in the former fixture, Reading loan-signing Billy Sharp scored Doncaster's penalty consolation as a result of Mills' infringement, and was later also booked.

What is abundantly clear is that Keith Stroud is certainly a referee with Royals history. It would be pleasant to create history under his watchful eye again today against Watford, but for all the right reasons: don't you think we're overdue a 6-4 victory?

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