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FA Cup Ref-Watch: Cardiff (A)

Reading are still in the FA Cup and the official for our fourth round trip to Cardiff was the man in the middle for the final of the competition last season, Lee Probert. It hasn't been plain sailing since then though, as The_Biscuitman explains...

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I think this is the first time that I've had to say this in my time on The Tilehurst End, but we will be with ref royalty this weekend, with Lee Probert taking charge of our FA Cup 4th round tie at Cardiff City.

Last season, he took charge of the final of this competition between Arsenal and Hull City - the most prestigious refereeing honour in England.

It is the highest point of his career since being promoted to being one of the Select Group Referees in 2007. Between now and then, he has refereed over 100 games in the Premier League as well as numerous Europa League ties, but has only been the man in the middle on four occasions this season, none of which have been in the top division.

The 42 year old has given out 12 yellow cards and no red ones in two League Two encounters, a Championship fixture and an FA Cup third round tie. Quite a fall from grace. If you were wondering, none of the four games featured any penalties.

Just two weeks ago, Probert was one of five Premier League group officials who former referees’ chief Keith Hackett labelled "appalling".

Talking about Probert in particular, the 70 year old said the Wiltshere official should lose his job should he fail a fitness test.

He has taken charge of a Reading fixture on nine previous occasions (including once in the FA Cup - against Manchester City in March 2011. Under his control, we have won two games, both nearly 10 years ago, but lost three times and drawn on four occasions.

The last Royals match that he refereed was our 1-0 loss to Aston Villa back in the Premier League in November 2012. Out of all the 11 that started that day, just Adam Federici and Hal Robson-Kanu remain at the Madjeski Stadium.

So it seems that he has a point to prove about his stamina in South Wales and, with the pressure looming, is a shaky performance around the corner? If it helps Reading's cause and we get in to the next round, who cares? Maybe Andre Marriner awaits...