REFEREE Paul Tierney will be in charge of the Lancashire derby between Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers in the SkyBet Championship on Friday night.
The 35-year-old from Wigan will take charge as the two former Premier League sides – who are separated by 12 miles – look for their first league wins of the season at Ewood Park (KO 7:45pm, live on Sky Sports).
He will be ably assisted by linesmen Richard Wigglesworth (South Yorkshire) and Steven Meredith (Nottinghamshire) while the fourth official is Scott Duncan (Northumberland) for the first match of the fifth round of fixtures in 2015-16.
Tierney – who is being considered for promotion to the Select Group – was also the man in black for the corresponding fixture last term when Rovers won 1-0 in March thanks to a late Jordan Rhodes goal.
Before this game, he will be in the middle for Tuesday night’s televised Capital One Cup second round tie between Luton Town and Stoke City.
Tierney will also conclude a busy week by fulfilling fourth official duties at Anfield on Saturday for Liverpool’s Premier League game against West Ham United.
He has already had a steady start to the campaign with only 10 yellow cards handed out in his four games in all competitions so far.
Tierney also had two fourth official assignments on the first weekend at Chelsea’s Premier League opener with Swansea on Saturday and, not far from home, Preston’s Championship game with Middlesbrough at Deepdale on Sunday.
After being selected for a trial match early last season, the Lancashire hairdresser was given another opportunity to impress in the top-flight when handling newly-promoted Watford’s first home game against West Bromwich Albion without any fuss and showing just three yellows.
He has also been in the middle for two Championship games at Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough as well as the televised League Cup first round tie as Portsmouth shocked Derby County although he should have awarded a penalty to the visitors at Fratton Park when Johnny Russell was tripped but gave the foul outside the box.
It was expected that Tierney may have been included on the Premier League list at the end of 2014-15 after another excellent year in the Football League and gaining experience of officiating top-flight teams such as Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion in the domestic cups but only Graham Scott made the step-up to replace the retired Chris Foy.
He refereed 37 games across five different competitions last term – brandishing 134 yellows, sending off eight players and awarding 16 penalties.
But Tierney – who has been on the National List of referees since the 2009-10 season – proved his capabilities after performing well in high-profile encounters including his first east Midlands and east Anglian derbies among 16 Championship matches.
His career highlights include running the line in a 2009 FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Arsenal, taking charge of the 2014 League Two play-off semi-final second leg between Southend and Burton Albion and being fourth official for the FA Trophy Final in the same year.
Although allowing the game to flow as much as possible and largely avoiding controversy, Tierney has built a reputation for being a card-happy official during his five previous seasons in the Football League.
He is, though, among the development group in the National List who are coached by former Premier League referee Alan Wiley.
ELSEWHERE THIS WEEKEND….
Darren Bond will be in the middle for Derby’s SkyBet Championship match with Leeds United at the iPro Stadium on Saturday (KO 12:05pm, live on Sky Sports).
The 37-year-old was the fourth official for the Rams’ previous home game against Middlesbrough last Tuesday as well as the Yorkshire derby between Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday at Elland Road on Saturday.
The Lancashire whistler – who is also considered to be part of the Talent Group of officials hoping to become a Premier League referee – has already overseen three games with two in the Championship and one in the first round of the Capital One Cup.
Bond – from Ormskirk – has brandished just 10 yellow cards in handling Cardiff’s 1-1 draw with Fulham, Wolves’ 2-1 cup win over Newport County in which he awarded the hosts a penalty and Nottingham Forest’s 2-1 victory against Rotherham on August 15.
He will be assisted for the televised lunchtime encounter in the east Midlands by Simeon Lucas (Lancashire) and Ian Rathbone (Northamptonshire) while Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire) is the fourth official.
Bond – who was in charge of 11 Championship games among 40 in all competitions last term – had a tough time handling the League One play-off semi-final first leg between Sheffield United and Swindon back in May with some debatable decisions made.
He was also the man in black for the FA Vase semi-final second leg as Glossop North End edged past St Austell at Surrey Street on aggregate in which he sent off a North End defender early on.