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England gets Villa gig again - Referee
Friday, 26th Oct 2018 08:23 by Clive Whittingham

As he was last season, Darren England is the referee for Aston Villa's visit to Loftus Road this evening. It's his second QPR appointment of the season following the opening day loss at Preston.

Referee >>> Darren England (Barnsley), refereed our 2-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa last season awarding the visitors a penalty late in the first half.

Assistants >>> Nick Greenhalgh (Lancashire) and James Mainwaring (Lancashire), same linesman combination from that Preston game as well.

Fourth Official >>> Gavin Ward (Surrey)


Preston 1 QPR 0, Saturday August 4, 2018, Championship

The shithousery that came to define PNE’s performance at Loftus Road last season started in earnest with 15 minutes to go. Numerous instances of kicking the ball away, including by manager Alex Neil, left unchecked by referee Darren England and therefore allowed to fester. Goalkeeper Rudd swapping and changing the sides of his goalkicks (easy rule to change that one) and then hitting the floor clutching his face pretending Paul Smyth had struck him while awaiting a corner – he should be absolutely embarrassed to watch that incident back again in the video review, it was among the most pathetic things I’ve ever seen. In that final quarter of an hour three different Preston players on three separate occasions decided they’d suffered head injuries and got the game stopped. Only one of them looked legitimate, after clearing a corner, and one of them seemed to just stick his hand up and say his head hurt a bit despite being nowhere near any of the action. All were, miraculously, able to continue. Again, a rugby league style rule change where anybody who thinks they have a head injury has to go off for a 15 minute concussion assessment, would soon stop this, but you can also be stronger as a referee under the current rules. We saw several times in the World Cup referees ignoring such play acting and allowing the game to go on, making very clear they knew what the players were up to and wouldn’t stand for it. Ignore one of them rolling round on the floor once, play on and force them to get back in position and get on with it. It soon stops it. Darren England was complicit in 15 minutes of flagrant cheating here.

PNE: Rudd 7; Fisher 6, Clarke 6, Davies 6, Hughes 6; Pearson 8, Browne 7; Barkhuizen 7 (Horgan 71, 6), Harrop 6 (Ledson 83, -), Robinson 7; Moult 6 (Gallagher 77, 6)

Subs not used: Woods, Burke, Maxwell, Huntington

Goals: Browne 50 (assisted Harrop)

QPR: Ingram 5; Kakay 6, Leistner 7, Lynch 6, Bidwell 5; Scowen 6, Luongo 6 (Smyth 66, 6); Osayi-Samuel 5 (Manning 46, 6), Eze 6, Freeman 5; Smith 4 (Sylla 77, 5)

Subs not used: Cousins, Washington, Lumley, Baptiste

Yellow Cards: Manning 66 (foul), Scowen 73 (foul)

Darren England (Barnsley) 5 It’s all very well dramatically pointing to your head and making out like you have no choice but to stop the play for another three minutes because it could be a fatal brain injury, but when it’s the third or fourth time it’s happened in ten minutes, and the player hasn’t been anywhere near any of the recent action, and it’s set in the context of a litany of other time wasting, there has to come a time where a strong referee says ‘either go off for treatment or carry on but we’re not stopping again’. We saw strong clampdowns on play acting, time wasting and general arseholery during the World Cup and it wasn’t surprising how quickly it stopped once the players realised the referee wasn’t buying it. England bought everything Preston had to sell in the last 15 minutes here. Piss weak refereeing that encouraged worse and worse behaviour as the game went on. If he’d given short shrift to, say, Rudd for moving his goalkicks here there and everywhere, or Alex Neil kicking the ball away down the touchline, earlier in the game he could have nipped it all in the bud. Instead he allowed it to fester to the point of farce. Strap some on if you haven’t got a pair of your own.

Leeds 2 QPR 0, Sunday May 6, 2018, Championship

Then there was referee Darren England, who carelessly cut me and laughed while I bled with three minutes of additional time to the first half for a succession of injuries, including a nasty looking ankle problem for Scowen which I was surprised he played through. End damn you, will this bloody season never end? Put a fucking bullet in me. Three minutes? Why do you torment me so? Ahem, sorry. Furlong headed a well worked Freeman free kick over in that added time after Eze had been fouled on the edge of the area.

Things might have been interesting had Luke Freeman’s effort - which beat home keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell all ends up but missed the far post from 20 yards out - gone in immediately after the second goal, but QPR finished the game with only one shot on target. Bar a horrible tackle from Phillips on substitute Bright Osayi-Samuel – a yellow and a half – the final third of the game was intensely, stupefyingly boring and Rangers never once looked like they were going to come back into it. They sent on Osayi-Samuel, little Smyth and Oteh for Wszolek who’d done ok out of position, Eze who’d been a little half-arsed and casual for my taste, and Chair who’d been bullied out of the game by Phillips. It made not a blind bit of difference. The final whistle was like having your dog put down – sad, but thank God it’s all over with.

Leeds: Peacock-Farrell 6; Ayling 7, Jansson 6 (Pennington 46, 6), Cooper 6, Pearce 8; Phillips 7, Vieira 6; Forshaw 7 (O’Kane 87, -), Alioksi 6, Roofe 7 (Edmondson 74,6); Ekuban 5

Subs not used: Lonergan, Lasogga, Saiz, Sacko

Goals: Roofe 30, Phillips 47

Bookings: Alioski 54 (foul), Edmondson 81 (foul), Phillips 86 (foul)

QPR: Lumley 5; Wszolek 5 (Smyth 67, 5), Furlong 6, Bidwell 5, Manning 6; Cousins 4, Scowen 6, Chair 5 (Osayi-Samuel 60, 5); Freeman 6, Eze 5 (Oteh 73, 5), Smith 5

Subs not used: Ingram, Kakay, Hamalainen, Owens

Bookings: Furlong 63 (foul), Scowen 84 (foul), Bidwell 90+1 (foul)

Referee – Darren England (Barnsley) 8 A lot of bookings for a meaningless end of season game, but you couldn’t argue with any of them and actually in the case of Phillips on Osayi-Samuel he’s perhaps lucky the referee was in end of term mode.

QPR 1 Aston Villa 2, Saturday December 9, 2017, Championship

Although the R’s conceded an equaliser right on the very stroke of half time from the penalty spot, and the decision was correct, it was one that most referees wouldn’t see and came a matter of seconds before half time. Albert Adomah took Alex Smithies out of the equation with an emphatic finish but Rangers were so close to going in at half time in front which could have made a big difference.

Moments later he saved equally well from Keinan Davis, Villa’s lone striker, though Robinson seemed to have been fouled in the build-up. Mackie was definitely fouled prior to the next chance, referee Darren England waving a nonsense advantage on with Luke Freeman surrounded by four players and Villa quickly broke with Davis testing Smithies again – Whelan’s booking after the event scant consolation. Smithies saved a header from Adomah and Alex Baptiste flung himself full length across the goal to block another shot from Onomah with Villa appealing for handball. This was all in the last eight minutes of the first half so the penalty, when it finally came, for a handball by Robinson stopping Hourihane's goalbound shot, felt inevitable if irritatingly timed.

Snodgrass, a man with a lot to say for himself for somebody not good enough to get in the current abysmal West Ham team, was perhaps lucky his yellow card on the hour was only that. Having tried, not for the first time, to extract a free kick from Darren England by diving over Jake Bidwell, the Scottish winger reacted to the non-award by leaping up and smashing Bidwell in the back of the head seconds later. Having spent all afternoon spraying the match officials with abuse he’s lucky the referee was so sympathetic with him.

QPR: Smithies 8; Baptiste 4, Lynch 5, Robinson 6; Cousins 6 (Washington 63, 5), Bidwell 6; Sowen 6, Freeman 6, Luongo 6 (Manning 45, 5); Mackie 5 (Sylla 72, 6), Smith 7

Subs not used: Furlong, Wszolek, Lumley, Wheeler

Goals: Mackie 18 (assisted Freeman)

Bookings: Robinson 53 (foul), Manning 76 (foul)

Villa: Johnstone 6; Hutton 5, Samba 5, Chester 7, Taylor 6; Snodgrass 6 (Jedinak 81, 7), Whelan 6, Hourihane 7, Adomah 8 (Bjarnason 90+1, -); Onomah 8 (De Laet 86, -); Davis 8

Subs not used: Lansbury, Grealish, Steer, O’Hare

Goals: Adomah 45+3 (penalty, won Hourihane), 58 (assisted Hourihane)

Bookings: Whelan 38 (foul), Snodgrass 60 (foul), Taylor 90+1 (foul)

Referee – Darren England (Barnsley) 6 Seem him get a lot of stick post-match, but honestly I thought he was pretty good in a tough game to referee. Penalty decision was correct, and well spotted. Just before that though he’d waved away an obvious foul because he felt Luke Freeman running with the ball surrounded by four Villa players with no support was somehow an advantage. Thought he was quite generous with Snodgrass, who was diving around all over the place, went for Bidwell with his elbow after (rightly) not getting a free kick and only got booked, and spent his entire time on the pitch spraying abuse at the match officials. But overall not too bad.

QPR 2 Cardiff City 1, Saturday March 4, 2017, Championship

Cardiff had much the better of things, led from the left by tricky wide man Kadeem Harris. A former Wycombe youth product who’s spent time on loan at Brentford and Barnsley, Harris’ purposeful and dangerous wing play vindicated Holloway’s decision to go with the more experienced Perch at right back rather than expose young Darnell Furlong – Perch had to work exceptionally hard just to hang onto his opponents’ coat tails and an eleventh minute cross shot from Harris nearly squirmed its way in. Fine tackles by first Bidwell on 15 minutes and then Perch, again on Harris, after 24 denied clear runs on the goal. Massimo Luongo was booked for a foul on former R Matt Connolly. Smithies saved splendidly from Ralls before half time and then, finally, the visitors did open the scoring on the stroke of the break when Grant Hall contrived to leave Sol Bamba, just about the most conspicuous and dangerous opposition presence we’ll have visiting our penalty box all season, completely free to power a header into the top corner.

Pilkington shot over from the lesser spotted well worked short corner routine, and James Perch received his weekly yellow card for a typical shin splitter on Junior Hoilett as QPR just about saw out the game.

QPR: Smithies 7; Perch 7, Onuoha 6, Lynch 6, Bidwell 6; Goss 6 (Ngbakoto 58, 7), Hall 6, Luongo 5 (Morrison 76, 4); Mackie 6 (Wszolek 81, -), Smith 6, Washington 6

Subs not used: Ingram, Furlong, Sylla, Manning

Goals: Ngbakoto 62 (assisted Mackie), Smith 83 (assisted Ngbakoto)

Bookings: Luongo 40 (foul), Perch 88 (standard Perch shin rattler)

Cardiff: McGregor 6; Connolly 5 (Bennett 86, -), Morrison 6, Bamba 6, Richards 6; Noone 6 (Pilkington 72, 6), Gunnarsson 6 (Halford 90, -), Ralls 6, Harris 8; Hoilett 6, Zohore 6

Subs not used: Whittingham, John, Murphy, Harris

Goals: Bamba 44 (assisted Noone)

Bookings: Morrison 66 (foul)

Referee – Darren England (Barnsley) 8 Very good. Impressive.


England, an experienced linesman at the highest level, made his Championship debut as a referee at QPR v Cardiff in 2016/17. In his first full season in the second tier he showed 149 yellows and two reds in 39 games, led by the eight yellows shown at Norwich 0 Wolves 2 at the end of October. He was rewarded for his efforts over the season with a League Two play-off semi-final second leg between Exeter and Lincoln City.

So far this season he’s shown 50 yellows and two reds in 14 games, led by five yellows and a red at Brentford’s 2-0 home win against Wigan. He refereed Villa’s 1-1 draw at home to Reading at the end of August, awarding an injury time penalty against them which was converted by Sam Baldock.

England was fast tracked from local football in South Yorkshire onto the assistant referees list in the professional ranks at a relatively young age, and made his Premier League debut in QPR’s 3-2 win at Stoke City under Neil Warnock in 2011 aged just 24. He ran the line for the FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Aston Villa aged 29 two years ago before hanging his flag up to start moving up the ranks as a referee.

He started with a bang in 2015/16, his first full one on the Football League list, with ten yellow cards in just his second match – Accrington v Mansfield in League Two – and showed five red cards in his first 14 games but he’s calmed down considerably since then. He finished last season with 97 yellows and six reds in 30 appointments.

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