SkyBet Championship: Bobby Madley to referee Brighton v Newcastle

The Premier League referee will take charge of the crucial top-of-the-table battle at the AMEX Stadium between two sides destined for the top-flight.

bobby-madley-gives-free-kick-mboro-v-leicester-2nd-jan-2017
In the middle: Madley took charge of the first Premier League game of 2017 in a goalless draw between Middlesbrough and Leicester at the Riverside (Picture from Sky Sports)

A Premier League referee will take charge of the crucial SkyBet Championship clash between leaders Brighton and second-placed Newcastle United.

Bobby Madley has been appointed to keep the peace as the two hot favourites for promotion do battle at the AMEX Stadium in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Tuesday night (KO 19:45 GMT).

The 31-year-old will be assisted on the south coast by Select Group linesmen Marc Perry (west Midlands) and Adrian Holmes (west Yorkshire), while Lee Probert (Wiltshire) is the fourth official.

Madley – who hails from west Yorkshire – will take charge of his 28th game of the campaign in all competitions.

Overall, he has so far brandished a massive 119 yellow cards, sent off four players in four different competitions and awarded eight penalties (seven in the Premier League).

It will be Madley’s first Championship game of the season and he has only ventured down into the Football League once before.

He was criticised by Scunthorpe United boss Graham Alexander for his display in the League One leaders’ 3-1 defeat at Southend United earlier this month and dismissing midfielder Neal Bishop for perceived violent conduct late on at Roots Hall.

Bobby Madley referee (Hull v Sheffield Weds - 28th May 2016)
Honour: Madley was a surprise choice as he became the youngest referee to handle a Championship Play-Off Final last season (Picture from Sky Sports)

The Ossett-born whistler, who joined the Fifa list of international referees last year, was only in the middle for two Championship games but one was another pivotal encounter for Brighton which proved decisive in the promotion battle.

On his last visit to the AMEX, Madley oversaw the Seagulls’ 1-1 draw with Derby County in their penultimate league game in May last year, sending off Brighton defender Lewis Dunk for a second bookable offence late on before James Wilson’s late equaliser for the hosts.

Just five days later, he oversaw his last match involving Newcastle, which was a difficult one for him to contend with in a goalless draw at already-relegated Aston Villa as beach balls were thrown onto the pitch in protest by the home fans at Villa Park.

However, he will still be remembered by most Magpies fans from last season’s Wear-Tyne derby against Sunderland for the controversial dismissal of Fabricio Coloccini which led to a penalty and subsequently turned the game in favour of the Black Cats, who ran out 3-0 winners at the Stadium of Light.

Last May, Madley also handled his first game at Wembley as a referee and put in a solid performance in the Championship Play-Off Final as Hull City earned promotion with a 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday, with the appointment coming despite his Yorkshire connections.

It was his second trip to the national stadium last term having been fourth official to Michael Oliver for the League Cup final between Liverpool and Manchester City, capping a consistent and excellent season for him.

madley
Recent: Madley’s last encounter with a Championship side was earlier this month in Fulham’s 3-0 FA Cup defeat at home to London rivals Tottenham (Picture from BBC Sport)

The Wakefield-born official has established himself as one of the better referees in the Select Group in the last two seasons and will no doubt benefit from the departure of Mark Clattenburg at the end of the season with more regular high-profile matches.

Madley’s most recent game was at Selhurst Park on Saturday for Crystal Palace’s 1-0 win over Middlesbrough in the Premier League, in which he somehow booked James McArthur for diving rather than award Palace a penalty when the midfielder was fouled by Stewart Downing in the box.

He only joined the National List of referees in 2010 but has made plenty of progress since.

Madley sent off three players on his Premier League debut when West Brom beat Southampton 3-0 at St Mary’s in April 2013 before being promoted to the Select Group of referees for the 2013-14 campaign.

He is the younger brother of Select Group 2 referee Andy, who endured a busy weekend after being fourth official for Wolves against Birmingham at Molineux on Friday night and sending off Aston Villa’s Leandro Bacuna for pushing a linesman in their 1-0 win over Derby County on Saturday.

Bobby Madley speaks to Yaya Toure (v Everton CO Cup SF 1st leg - 6th Jan 2016)
In control: Madley has shown he can remain calm under pressure, overseeing a League Cup semi-final and a Merseyside derby last season without difficulty (Picture from Sky Sports)

Huddersfield Town fan Bobby has previously handled seven Brighton games stretching back to 2012, all in the Championship, while he has controlled six matches involving Newcastle – four in the Premier League and two in the League Cup.

A referee since 2001, Madley’s experience of the Football League will be required in what is likely to be a fiery and tense occasion under the floodlights on the south coast for the standout game of the midweek fixtures on Tuesday night, with the pressure high on both teams to deliver a positive result.

Newcastle had the edge when the sides met back in August at St James’s Park, with goals from captain Jamaal Lascelles and Jonjo Shelvey securing a 2-0 win over 10-man Brighton.

The vastly-experienced former Premier League official Keith Stroud was in charge and issued six yellows as well as dismissing Sam Baldock for a second bookable offence for a challenge on Newcastle keeper Matz Sels.

Brighton, managed by former Magpies boss Chris Hughton, went top of the Championship on Saturday after a 3-0 win over promotion rivals Reading in the evening kick-off, following Newcastle’s 2-2 draw at home to struggling Bristol City.

Rafael Benitez’s men came from two goals down to earn the point which keeps them one point behind leaders Brighton with 13 games remaining.

Meanwhile, after the game at the AMEX, Madley will be back in Premier League action at the weekend after being appointed to Saturday’s evening showdown between heavyweights Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield.

Battling Millwall add to Brighton’s woes

Battling Millwall earned their first league win in almost two months to leave struggling Brighton – and under-fire boss Sami Hyypia – in a desperate situation.

In the firing line: Hyypia has only been in charge on the south coast since replacing Oscar Garcia in the summer
In the firing line: Hyypia has only been in charge on the south coast since replacing Oscar Garcia in the summer

BRIGHTON may have been three games away from the Premier League in each of the last two seasons but such is the transformation in fortunes that they now face a fight just to remain in the Championship.

The Seagulls this term have been a shadow of the side which finished in the play-offs under both Gus Poyet and Oscar Garcia and find themselves languishing in the bottom three.

Friday night’s 1-0 reverse at home to Millwall left the Sussex club with just one win in their last 17 league games – and yet more questions for a boss who is starting to feel the pressure more than ever.

Sami Hyypia was almost speechless when asked whether he would walk away and how he is going to turn form around after Lee Gregory’s first-half goal condemned his team to a third successive defeat.

On the mark: The 26-year-old bagged his fourth league goal of the season - which proved to be the winner
On the mark: The 26-year-old bagged his fourth league goal of the season – which proved to be the winner

What a difference a year makes for the former Liverpool defender, who – this time 12 months ago – was guiding Bayer Leverkusen to the last 16 of the Champions League and challenging Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga.

Fighting spirit and determination is something the Finn has never lacked but the situation has now become as desperate as it could possibly get.

And after the fans – those who decided to stay until the end – booed the players off, winning the support of the home faithful back is another factor to the challenge.

Anxiety and tension reverberated around the terraces all evening – the mood lifted only partially during a surprise marriage proposal at half-time.

Say yes: One man got down on one knee during half-time to propose to his other half - and she said yes!
Say yes: One man got down on one knee during half-time to propose to his other half – and she accepted!

But a small section of the spectators had made their minds up as a banner – similar to the one produced at the Hawthorns recently calling for Arsene Wenger’s head – asked for Hyypia’s time to be up.

Apologetic: Some Brighton fans displayed their displeasure towards their manager Hyypia
Apologetic: Some Brighton fans displayed their displeasure towards their manager Hyypia

The AMEX Stadium – a ready-made Premier League ground in its current shape – was half-full even from the start and those who braved the cold temperatures were barely warmed up by what they saw in the opening exchanges.

Millwall had arrived on the back of a wretched run themselves with no win since edging past Cardiff on October 25 and just a solitary victory in their previous 16 outings.

But the Lions roared into life from the outset, cashing in on the vulnerability and nerves of their hosts to establish a foothold.

There was a slice of luck about the goal when it did arrive on the quarter hour – however there was no disputing its merit.

Problems: Brighton's top scorer this season is a defender with five goals
Problems: Brighton’s top scorer this season is a defender with five goals

Magaye Gueye’s shot was scuffed and Lewis Dunk stumbled to ground. It should not take anything away from the clinical finish of Gregory – the rookie striker who netted 32 goals for Halifax Town in non-league last term.

Thereafter, Millwall turned into defensive mode with much of the attacking threat coming from a Brighton side who, for all their possession and territorial advantage, scarcely worried the Lions rearguard.

The visitors’ willingness to contest for every ball and scrap until the cows came home, though, was illustrated through the dogged nature of their rock of a captain Danny Shittu – who unsurprisingly was named man of the match.

Seen it and done it: Shittu has been at QPR, Bolton, Watford and Charlton in the past
Seen it and done it: Shittu has been at QPR, Bolton, Watford and Charlton in the past

The defender – of international and Premier League pedigree – summed up the character of a player who has been around the blocks and knows what it takes to get out of trouble with blocks and headers galore.

The togetherness was evident for all to see in the pre-match huddle – the same, unfortunately, cannot be said of the Seagulls of late.

David Forde had to beat away a Jake Forster-Caskey drive and tip a Joao Teixiera shot around the post but was otherwise unconcerned.

Proven: Bent has a habit of scoring goals in his career but could not get on the scoresheet
Proven: Bent has a habit of scoring goals in his career but could not get on the scoresheet

Brighton – with on-loan Aston Villa striker Darren Bent making his first start – huffed and puffed in the second half.

But for all of their pressure, there was nothing to get excited about – another insipid display and ultimately frustrating watch for Hyypia.

Master and apprentice: Hyypia (left) watches on as Holloway (right) issues instructions to his players
Master and apprentice: Hyypia (left) watches on as Holloway (right) issues instructions to his players

Opposite number Ian Holloway’s experience and nous ultimately made all the difference.

His demand for a response from the 5-1 thrashing by Middlesbrough last weekend would have been ringing in the ears of Millwall’s players all night long.

Hyypia is a rookie at this level by comparison and the question now on everyone’s lips is how much longer will he last. His future is certainly uncertain.

https://twitter.com/alanfrost47/status/543702589389697024