Washington referee Rebecca Welch impresses as she becomes the first woman to be appointed to officiate an EFL match
Washington referee Rebecca Welch made an impressive debut as she became the first woman to be appointed to officiate an EFL match in Port Vale’s 2-0 win at Harrogate.
Welch, 37, made EFL history and her day went unspoilt without any major controversy, barring a contentious decision to wave away Harrogate’s appeals for a first-half penalty.
Port Vale secured their fifth straight Sky Bet League Two victory with David Worrall scoring against the run of play early in the second half and substitute Kurtis Guthrie making sure of the points in the 90th minute.
Victory saw Darrell Clarke’s side leapfrog Harrogate into 15th place in the table, with both sides well clear of relegation trouble.
Welch enjoyed a relatively uneventful first EFL match despite the frantic nature of the contest from kick-off.
Never flustered, the official turned down two first-half penalty appeals from Harrogate, the second of which was contentious.
Port Vale defender Leon Legge clattered into the back of Connor Hall in the 31st minute and, despite loud appeals from the home side, Welch waved play on.
Before that Welch turned down an appeal from Harrogate when Jack Muldoon’s cross hit Nathan Smith on the hand, but there was little the visiting defender could do about it and, as he did not make his body shape bigger, it appeared the correct decision.
Vale goalkeeper Scott Brown ensured the game remained goalless at the interval, with a series of crucial first-half saves.
Brown kept out Mark Beck’s header and, after Dan Jones had headed wide for the home side, the Vale keeper blocked two shots in quick succession, from Josh McPake and then Muldoon on the rebound.
Harrogate goalkeeper James Belshaw saved well to keep out Devante Rodney’s low angled effort before Brown held Muldoon’s header just before half-time.
The visitors took the lead against the run of play three minutes after the restart when Worrall burst on to Robinson’s pass into the area and smashed an emphatic finish into the roof of the net.
Harrogate chased an equaliser without carving out clear-cut chances and Vale substitute Guthrie made sure of maximum points when he fired home a low shot from the edge of the penalty area in the 90th minute.