Top ref Oliver is standout performer

Premier League referee Michael Oliver is being hailed by Morpeth Town's fans on social media after taking charge of EVO-STIK League newcomer's marquee friendly with Sunderland.

The Premier League's youngest ever referee at 25 years and 182 days old when he took charge of his first top flight game in 2010, the 33-year-old was praised by fans of last season's Northern League runners-up for his handling of the Highwaymen's 2-2 draw with the Black Cats at Craik Park on Tuesday night.

Fan Doug Turnbull used his Twitter account ‏@dougt_63 to write: "Man of the match for me was referee #MichaelOliver hardly blew his whistle, allowed the game to flow, played proper advantage when required & back-chat was virtually non-existent #Respect."

Officials at the new EVO-STIK League East club were delighted to help out the Northumberland-born UEFA and FIFA-listed official after he called to ask if he could referee a game following his recent move back to the North East.

Oliver, who also holds the unique honour of refereeing the League One play-off final in 2009 on the same weekend as his dad Clive took control of the League Two play-off final, was in need of a game after his last outing back in May taking charge of the Champions League semi-final between Real Madrid and Juventus.

Before kick-off and seeing Nick Gray's side held despite Liam Henderson's brace, Morpeth media manager Ross Jackson told the club's website: "We’re delighted to have Michael officiating our game with Sunderland, which is our biggest game of pre-season anyway. Chuck in a Premier League ref and it will be a cracking night for everyone who comes down.

"Michael has recently moved to the town and contacted the club about getting some minutes under his belt. People forget that it isn’t just the players who need to shrug off the rust and get match fit; the referees need to as well."

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