DARREN Bond will take charge of his first SkyBet Championship match of 2016 on Saturday when Cardiff host Brighton live on TV, the Football League has confirmed.
The 37-year-old, from Lancashire, will be the referee when the play-off chasing Seagulls visit south Wales for the lunchtime game (KO 12:30 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
He will be assisted by Adrian Tranter (Dorset) and Andrew Turner (Devon) with Stephen Martin (Staffordshire) on fourth official duties.
Bond has handled 25 games in all competitions so far this season – brandishing 76 yellow cards, sending off two players and awarding seven penalties.
The Ormskirk-based whistler last visited the Cardiff City Stadium on the opening weekend when the Bluebirds drew 1-1 with Fulham.
He has not encountered Brighton since their 1-1 draw against Wolves at Molineux in December 2014, in which he sent off Bruno for a two-footed challenge and controversially reversed a Wolves penalty.
It will only be the seventh time that Bond, considered to be part of the Talent Group of officials hoping for Premier League promotion, will oversee a Championship game in 2015-16.
Two of the previous six have been live on TV – Leeds’ 2-1 win at Derby in August and a goalless draw between Blackburn and Nottingham Forest in December, for which he was a late replacement for the ill Chris Kavanagh.
The former Premier League linesman was criticised in August by then Rotherham boss Steve Evans for a “rubbish” display in their 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest.
Bond – who controlled 11 Championship games among 40 in all competitions last term – also had a tough time handling the League One play-off semi-final first leg between Sheffield United and Swindon last May with some debatable decisions made.
He incurred the wrath of then Blades boss Nigel Clough, who felt his side should have had three penalties before Swindon were awarded a spotkick of their own at Bramall Lane.
Bond could be in for a difficult game, with Russell Slade’s ninth-placed Cardiff desperately hoping to close the gap on the play-offs and Chris Hughton’s Brighton seeking to maintain the pressure on the top two.
The Bluebirds are five points adrift of the top six with 15 games left while the Seagulls are three points behind leaders Hull City, who they drew 0-0 against at the KC Stadium on Tuesday night.