View on the Nini-man in the middle: Martin Atkinson

So it’s Cardiff City versus Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday 11th November in what is being billed as another “huge” game. Three points are proving difficult to come by for the beleaguered Bluebirds, but this weekend represents a good opportunity for the Welsh capital to move on to eight points.

Martin Atkinson is this week’s match official and it hasn’t been too long since he last visited the Cardiff City Stadium; he oversaw Cardiff’s disappointing loss to Burnley on Sunday 30th September. What can we expect from this weeks Nini-man in the middle?

It would be fair to say that Cardiff’s home loss to Burnley was possibly the most disappointing result of the season. The Bluebirds dominated large swathes of the match and were ultimately undone by two extremely poor goals from a defensive point of view.

Atkinson didn’t overshadow what was a good game, but failed to award a penalty for a foul on Callum Paterson in what looked a clear foul on the Scotsman. Neil Warnock was rueful in his post-match conference regarding the game in general, but particularly with regards to that incident, calling it a “clear penalty”.

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Atkinson is one of the better known referees in English football, but is not always regarded in the highest possible light, especially by his peers. In fact, on the 8th April, former referee Keith Hackett wrote the following in the Telegraph:

“If you want proof of why no English referee will be represented at this summer’s World Cup finals in Russia, look no further than Martin Atkinson’s performance at the Etihad on Saturday.

“Ashley Young should already have conceded a penalty in the first half for a handball, but his challenge on Sergio Aguero in the second half was not only a nailed-on penalty, but also a definite red card for the United player. It was a shocker – reckless, out of control and a foul that endangered the opposing player.

“You could not get a clearer case for a sending-off and I simply do not understand how Martin did not see it as such. He also seemed to be cutting his assistant, Stephen Child, out of the decision-making process. Given the positioning of Child, he should have made a point of consulting him.”

See below for an overview of his Premier League stats this season:

• 10 games refereed
• 35 yellow cards issued (an average of 3.5 yellows per game)
• Zero red cards
• Four penalties awarded

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Atkinson’s last match was a dramatic encounter at Selhurst Park, which saw Arsenal’s astonishing winning streak come to an end thanks to TWO penalties awarded by the referee for Crystal Palace. Neither manager had much cause for complaint with regards to Atkinson’s performance and it would appear that this weekend’s game at the Cardiff City Stadium could be quite a benign affair in contrast.

Both teams really need three points, but don’t expect the referee to offer too much in the way of assistance. Two penalties for the Bluebirds would be most welcome, but the question would then become who takes them?