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Ref-Watch: Sheffield Wednesday (H)

Sometimes in life, an old face appears from the past to remind you of a time gone by. Football is no different: with the Royals seemingly hitting good form, this weekend sees KEITH HILL return to officiate a Reading game for the first time since bearing witness to our Capital One Cup humiliation at London Road.

It's just typical, really. Still basking in the warm glow of consecutive 7-1 and 5-1 home scorelines, there's nothing quite like the memory of a sobering 6-0 League Cup humbling at the hands of Peterborough to send you hurtling back down to earth. Thanks Keith.

That's right: the last time Mr Hill had the privilege of refereeing the Royals was back in August, when the floodgates well and truly opened at London Road (perhaps I should keep the watery jokes to a minimum, given current circumstances). We leaked 6 goals in a wet and miserable performance, dumping us unceremoniously out of the Cup in only the 2nd Round.

However, it's not all doom and gloom. Remember how a certain Kevin Friend was the man in the middle in another Royal cup rollicking, as we lost 7-5 to Arsenal? Well on his visit to the MadStad two weeks ago, we administered a none-too-shabby 5-1 bashing to Blackpool: what goes around, comes around.

Using the same logic (or absence of it), Reading should comfortably see off Wednesday today by a margin in excess of 5 goals. Going by current form, only a brave or foolhardy man would bet against it.


Turning our attentions back upon Keith Hill, the 45-year-old has a very interesting background. He has travelled around the globe spreading the word overseas about the work of English referees, in countries including Dubai, South Africa, Ecuador, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, but most notably has just returned from a two-year stint in Japan - meaning that he was out of League action between 2011 and 2013.

A former sales manager before donning the cards and whistle, Keith has overseen a total of 22 fixtures this season, spanning every tier of the Football League as well as 3 separate cup competitions. 7 were Championship clashes, with Hill handing out a nice round 20 yellow cards across those matches, resulting in an average of just under 3 yellow cards per Championship game.

He is yet to send off a player in any league with the exception of League Two: back in November, Hill dismissed Southend United's Cauley Woodrow with a straight red card (just 4 minutes after coming off the bench in the 61st minute!), in their 2-1 loss to Portsmouth at Fratton Park. Even so, this represents the only occasion this season when a player has had an early bath under Keith's watch.

As frugal on the penalty front, Hill has only awarded a single Championship penalty in the 2013/2014 season thus far, and it came relatively recently: on the same day as our historic 7-1 over Bolton, a Doncaster Rovers team containing Billy Sharp saw off Wigan in a shock 3-0 win, with the Rovers' third goal the fruit of a 69th minute Chris Brown penalty. No, not THAT Chris Brown.

Whilst we're still on the subject of name confusion, Hill also has the dubious honour of sharing his name with current Rochdale manager Keith Hill: who, during his playing days for Rochdale, was booked by REFEREE Keith Hill. Bonkers.

Can we expect a similarly bonkers scoreline upon the soggy turf of the MadStad this afternoon, or has the Royal reservoir of goals finally run dry?