Darren Handley will be hoping the start of 2016 is signal for big things to come, as he has been awarded only his third ever Championship match to officiate. The Lancashire referee was promoted to the Football League group at the start of last season, and has since taken charge only Birmingham vs Norwich and MK Dons vs Fulham in the second tier. Both games ended in draws and produced just four yellow cards between them.
In total in 2015-16, Handley has taken charge of 18 games in all competitions, giving out 70 yellow cards and four red cards – an average of 4.1 cards per game. He has also awarded six penalties, four of which have been scored.
As he is a relatively new official, you have to go back to his career as an assistant referee to find any previous with Reading. In the one Royals game that he did run the line, we lost 1-0 to Blackpool in August 2014. Not that that means anything. Happy New Year Everyone!
The assistant referees will be Akil Howson and Marc Wilson, whilst the fourth official will be Fred Graham.