It is perhaps fitting that in Reading’s last game of the season, the referee is one who has officiated the most Royals games this campaign.
The lucky (!) man is James Linington, who will have previously taken charge of three of our games this term: the 3-1 win over Newport in the League Cup, the 2-1 defeat at Cardiff in November and when we beat Norwich by the same score line at the Madejski in December. In total he has refereed eight past Reading encounters, and we’ve won half of them, drawing two and losing two.
The Isle of Wight official is also only one of two refs to give a Royals player a red card in 2014-15, sending off Alex Pearce at the Cardiff City Stadium, when he comically couldn't find his card and had to borrow off the linesman. Generally though, Linington has been able to find the red - and thankfully too, as he has had to brandish it 10 times in 37 games this campaign, including in his last outing when he sent off Wigan’s James McClean against Wolves. That game also involved seven yellow cards (his highest tally of the season), making a total of 102 yellow cards given by Linington this season.
If you recall, he also gave a penalty against us in South Wales, one of ten spot-kicks this season.
Linington has not officiated a Derby County game since the final day of last season, when they were coming to terms with having to settle for a play-off place after a strong campaign. It’s an almost identical scenario this time around (apart from the fact that Reading were then 6th at the start of the play and now we are 19th – oh how times have changed).
So that’s it until August for Ref-Watch, when I’ll be back with perhaps a few new officials, and of course some old faces, such as Mr Linington, who I’m sure will be raring to go and looking forward to taking charge of yet more Reading games.