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Busy festive period for Ashton’s Premier League referee
Tuesday 2nd January 2018 @ 14:14 by Adam Higgins
Ashton Football Sports

The festive period is always considered a special time of year for fans, with a feast of football to enjoy. 

But for players, it means a hectic schedule with games every two or three days – and it’s no different for match officials too.

It’s been a particularly busy time for Ashton’s very own Premier League referee Chris Kavanagh, who has had six appointments to fulfil over the last 14 days.

It started on December 16 when he took charge of an eventful but goalless encounter between Brighton and Burnley at the Amex Stadium – in which he issued six yellow cards and awarded the hosts a first-half penalty, which Glenn Murray squandered, but missed an incident where Burnley’s James Tarkowski elbowed Murray off the ball. The former Oldham defender was subsequently charged with violent conduct by the FA and handed a three-match ban.

Three days later, the 31-year-old was the fourth official for Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over London rivals West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup, as ex-Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck scored the only goal of the tie.

He assumed the same role just before Christmas for Stoke City’s 3-1 Premier League win over West Bromwich Albion at the Bet365 Stadium – a game refereed by Neil Swarbrick on December 23.

Kavanagh had a good game when he returned to the middle on Boxing Day as Watford came from behind to defeat Leicester City 2-1 at Vicarage Road. He again brandished six bookings and needed to refer to goal-line technology to award what proved to be the winning goal for the Hornets, credited as an own goal by Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel.

Debutant: Ashton-based Kavanagh is in his first full season in the Premier League after being promoted to replace Mark Clattenburg on the Select Group list

In his final appointment of 2017, the highly-rated whistler – who hails from Manchester but lives in Tameside – was the fourth official for West Bromwich Albion’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal at The Hawthorns on New Year’s Eve.

He bore the brunt of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger’s anger after referee Mike Dean awarded a controversial penalty to the hosts late on, adjudging that Gunners defender Calum Chambers had handled in the area, which Jay Rodriguez converted to secure Alan Pardew’s side a point.

Kavanagh was back in the middle for the first time in 2018 on New Year’s Day as he dished out four yellow cards on his second visit to the Bet365 Stadium over the festive period in Newcastle United’s 1-0 victory over Stoke City, which piled huge pressure on Potters boss Mark Hughes after he rested a number of players for their 5-0 defeat at Chelsea two days earlier.

He has now issued 30 yellow cards and awarded just one spotkick in his eight Premier League games this season and is yet to send a player off in his nine top-flight matches in all.

The former Manchester County FA Referee Development Manager, who began refereeing in 1998, impressed during three years in the Football League and made his top-flight debut in Southampton’s 1-0 win at West Brom back in April before gaining promotion to the Select Group over the summer.

One of his most high-profile career appointments to date was his one and only appearance at Wembley Stadium, as fourth official for Glossop North End’s defeat by North Shields in the final of the FA Vase in May 2015.