The man in black when we visit Queens Park Rangers this weekend will be Robert Jones – his first Reading fixture since our narrow defeat on the opening day of the season.
The Royals suffered a loss in galling fashion that evening in front of the Sky cameras as Frank Lampard’s start to life as a manager got off to a winning start, thanks to a stoppage time winner by Derby’s Tom Lawrence. Jones pulled out his yellow card six times that day as both sides battled hard.
And the following month, he refereed his only QPR fixture to date of the campaign; it was a 2-0 victory for the West London side as they welcomed Millwall to Loftus Road.
This is the first full season refereeing in the Championship for the Merseyside-based official. His first game involving Reading – our 3-1 win in Burton last January – was just his eighth Championship fixture. He also took charge when we were defeated 3-0 at promotion-bound Wolves in March, and also refereed QPR’s home win over Sunderland and a Loftus Road loss to Preston.
Amongst Mr Jones’ games this season, he has only once had recourse to reach for his red card – showing Brentford defender Chris Mepham a second yellow against Bristol City – and he took charge of the Second City derby when Aston Villa and Birmingham City met last month at Villa Park.
Assistant referees for the game will be Graham Kane and Adam Matthews; the fourth official is Craig Hicks.