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Welch Watch – cheers from fans at the start followed by impressive display

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 23 Dec 2023

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Rebecca Welch made history by becoming the first female referee to officiate in the Premier League when she took charge of Burnley’s 2-0 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Welch, from Washington, Tyne and Wear, had previously refereed an FA Cup fixture in 2022 and an EFL match in 2021 ahead of Saturday’s meeting.

Key decisions

A timid start in west London offered little for Welch to act on before her decision to not award a Vitinho handball was met by frustration from the Fulham players.

Welch refused to let on-field reactions affect her judgement and she was happy to play advantages in favour of both sides, allowing the game to flow.

Calvin Bassey was awarded a yellow card after 25 minutes for striking Josh Brownhill. The Fulham defender refused to walk towards Welch when signalled by her on three occasions but eventually approached the referee and gained a caution.

Crowd reaction

Welch’s name was welcomed by cheers when read out by the announcer ahead of kick off.

But the home supporters’ frustrations grew when her first few decisions went in favour of Burnley and they offered sarcastic cheers when their side were awarded a foul in midfield.

The debutante got every decision right up to that point but she was met with whistles and “don’t know what you are doing” chants after she waved off Harry Wilson’s appeals just inside the visitors’ half.

Overall performance

Welch impressed in her opening game. The 40-year-old asserted her authority and did not let the occasion get the better of her in a tense match.

Welch’s willingness to play advantage was a major positive and something supporters should expect from her in the future.

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