Ref Halsey has big-match pedigree

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SUNDAY’S referee, Mark Halsey, is no stranger to the big occasion or Wednesday wins in Sheffield derbies.

The 50-year-old officiated in the Owls’ 2-0 home win against United in January, 2008, and their 2-1 victory at Bramall Lane in February, 2009.

This season his games have included the Portsmouth v Southampton derby and Liverpool’s FA Cup clash with Manchester United.

Last season he handled the all-South West affair between Exeter and Plymouth, and many other derbies, including Barnsley v Doncaster, Wolves v Villa, Cardiff v Swansea and Villa v West Brom. Big games on his CV have also included the 2008 League Cup final - a 2-1 win for Spurs against Chelsea.

But it was a relatively routine match on the first day of the 2000-01 season that gave him a say in history: he sent off Kevin Pressman after 13 seconds at Wolves - which was the fastest English dismissal.

Rotherham United and Sheffield will also have been memorable for him: Halsey made his comeback for a Millers v Port Vale match at Don Valley Stadium last spring after winning a six-month battle against throat cancer.

This season the Lancashire official has issued only 50 bookings in 21 games and sent off no-one.