The 37-year-old became the first-ever woman to preside over an English Football League fixture when she took charge of a game which the Sulphurites lost 2-0. Historic though it was, the County Durham-based official’s afternoon was a fairly uneventful one, and she drew praise from Weaver for the way she went about her business.
“I thought the referee was excellent,” he said. “From what I know of refereeing, I thought she gave as good a performance as we’ve seen this season. I’m not just saying that, either.
“She’s very switched on and focused. She cuts through all of the remonstrating and shouting.
“She doesn’t listen to any of that or any of the squealers on the pitch – she just does her job.”
Harrogate saw two shouts for penalties ignored during the first half, Jack Muldoon’s shot appearing to hit the arm of Vale defender Nathan Smith before Connor Hall went down under contact from Leon Legge.
But Weaver took no issue with Welch opting to turn her back on both appeals.
“I didn’t have a good view and I can’t say with full confidence anything other than what would be a biased shout,” he added.
Despite starting brightly and seeing Vale goalkeeper Scott Brown do well to keep out Mark Beck’s header and strikes from Josh McPake and Muldoon, Town seemed to run out of ideas with half-time approaching.
The hosts fell behind on 48 minutes when David Worrall charged to the back post to smash in Theo Robinson’s left-wing cross.
As Town toiled, Kurtis Guthrie wrapped up the points on 90 minutes with a low effort from inside the box.
Harrogate Town: Belshaw; Burrell, Smith, Hall, Jones; Thomson (Martin 67), Falkingham, Kerry, McPake; Beck, Muldoon (Kiernan 80). Unused substitutes: Minter, Fallowfield, Francis, Williams.
Port Vale: Brown; Smith, Legge, Brisley, Montano (Olagunju 90); Oyeleke (Taylor 63), Joyce, Conlon; Worrall, Robinson (Cullen 83), Rodney (Guthrie 63). Unused substitutes: Amoo, Hurst, Scott,
Referee: R Welch (County Durham).
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