Published: 05:00, 14 October 2021
Premier League referee Kevin Friend got the nod of approval from Gillingham boss Steve Evans at the weekend.
Prior to the match at Wycombe, Evans had voiced his concern over what he described as a worsening of standards among officials in the bottom two divisions of the EFL.
Top-flight referee Friend was the man in charge at Wycombe and the difference in class showed.
Evans said: “I thought Kevin Friend was Premier League class.
“He came across and he had a chat with me and explained a couple of decisions in a very man to man manner. He actually said to me at time-up, ‘thanks Steve for listening.’ You are going to listen to someone who officiates at that level aren’t you?”
The Gills also recently had Keith Stroud take charge of their game against Charlton. He’s another referee used to big games, more accustomed these day to Championship fixtures.
Evans commented: “They show the difference from the ones getting poorer every week to those turning up with a bit of class, they don’t come across the way they shouldn’t. He (Mr Friend) came across and said ‘Steve, let me explain.’ I had a few questions back when there was a break in play. Class referee.
“You also look at the assistant, their running, how they held their line, they probably got 95% of the decisions right. Both assistants and Kevin Friend largely got his decisions right.
“The penalty for us was stonewall, perhaps we could have had another. It would be nice to have those kind of officials every week but it doesn’t help us if we defend like we did after eight minutes (conceding twice) because then the game is done.”
Lee Swabey was the fourth official at Wycombe on Saturday and he’s been picked to referee this weekend’s game with Sunderland.