Keith Stroud in charge of Brighton v Brentford

Referee Keith Stroud will take charge of his 17th Championship game of the season when Brighton host Brentford in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Friday night.

Keith Stroud in action (QPR v Hull City - 1st January 2016)
Familiar face: Stroud will oversee his 17th Championship game of the season on the south coast (Picture from Sky Sports)

REFEREE Keith Stroud will take charge of Friday’s televised SkyBet Championship encounter between Brighton and Brentford.

The 46-year-old, from Hampshire, has been confirmed as the man in the middle at the AMEX Stadium for the first game of the Football League weekend (KO 19:45 GMT, live on Sky Sports).

He will be assisted by Dean Treleaven (West Sussex) and Marc Wilson (Cambridgeshire), while James Linington (Isle of Wight) is the fourth official.

Stroud has handled 31 games across seven competitions so far this season – issuing 134 yellow cards, sending off eight players and awarding six penalties.

Keith Stroud awards free-kick (Sheff Weds v Hull - 17th Oct 2015)
Butt of jokes: Stroud had to be replaced late on in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Hull at Hillsborough in October after clashing with Chuba Akpom (Picture from Sky Sports)

The former Premier League whistler has officiated two top-flight games in 2015-16, with a view to being re-promoted to the Select Group list next season.

He was in control of Crystal Palace’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa in August, correctly disallowing a Palace goal for offside after Dwight Gayle’s shot deflected in off James McArthur following discussions with assistant referee Peter Kirkup.

Afterwards, former PGMOL chief Keith Hackett urged that Stroud be selected for more Premier League games and hailed his decision-making and movement around the field.

Stroud also sent off West Ham defender James Collins with six minutes remaining for a crude challenge on two-goal Odion Ighalo in their 2-0 defeat at Watford in October.

Keith Stroud books Eric Lichaj (v Brighton - 7th August 2015)
Opener: Stroud booked six players in the first Football League game of the season between Brighton and Nottingham Forest (Picture from Sky Sports)

The Bournemouth-born official will visit the AMEX Stadium for the third time this season after overseeing their 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest on the opening weekend and 3-2 victory over 10-man Charlton in December.

It will also be his third Brentford away game of the campaign following their 4-2 win at Bristol City in August and 2-1 triumph over Reading – while in both, the Bees’ opponents had a player sent off.

Stroud’s most recent appearance in the middle came at the New York Stadium last Saturday in Charlton’s 4-1 success over Rotherham.

He is one of the most experienced in the Football League and has been in the middle twice at Wembley – for the 2004 Conference Play-Off Final between Aldershot and Shrewsbury and the 2013 League Two final as Bradford beat Northampton 3-0.

The Hampshire FA Referee Developing Manager first took up the whistle in 1988 and progressed through the ranks to become a Select Group assistant referee in 2002 when he was appointed as a linesman to the 2003 FA Cup Final.

Keith Stroud referee (Blackburn v Burnley - 24th October 2015)
Affiliation: Stroud is a boyhood supporter of current League Two club Luton Town (Picture from Sky Sports)

He became a National List referee in 2004 with his first Football League game being Scunthorpe’s 2-0 win at Cheltenham in League Two before impressing in a trial Premier League match between Middlesbrough and Manchester City in 2007.

Stroud was promoted to the top-flight at the start of the 2007-08 campaign but demoted back to the National List in May 2009 after just two seasons as a full-time official.

Chris Hughton’s Brighton – who sit fifth in the table, level on points with fourth-placed Derby – are seeking a third straight league win after a run of four straight defeats.

Meanwhile, Dean Smith’s Brentford have taken four points from their last two league matches against Leeds and Preston following their own run of four successive losses.

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