Cobblers midfielder O’Toole happy to be totting up the goals rather than cards

CHANGED MAN - JohnJoe O'Toole has been booked 13 times this season, but only once since Boxing Day

CHANGED MAN - JohnJoe O'Toole has been booked 13 times this season, but only once since Boxing Day

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Escaping the wrath of the referee has never been John-Joe O’Toole’s strongest attribute but, nevertheless, it is something which he intends on improving, although much, according to him, rests on the identity and individual style of the man in the middle.

O’Toole has been a popular name in referees’ notebooks over the past two campaigns, but after picking up 12 bookings in his first 27 games of the current season, one in his next nine suggest he’s perhaps learning to keep his emotions more in check.

The 28-year-old, who has never been one to mince his words, was typically forthright when quizzed on the subject of his ill-discipline and referees.

And while he admits discipline is an area of his game that he’s working on, at the same time, he feels a lot depends on the different styles of individual officials.

“I think I’ve been a bit more fortunate recently to be honest,” said the former Bristol Rovers man who will receive a three-game ban if and when he picks up two more yellow cards this season.

“The last few referees haven’t been too bad and I always tell them coming off the pitch ‘I don’t mind you’, but in the same sense if I think they’ve been terrible I’ll tell them that as well and at least they know and I get it off my chest!

“It’s something that I need to work on and I think it has been getting better because the last few games I’ve not been booked.

“If I can carry on doing that and get a few more goals it’ll all be good.”

Whilst some referees hand out yellow cards for fun. others are more forgiving.

So does O’Toole, who has scored four goals in his past three games for the Cobblers, know which referees are the danger ones?

“As soon as I see him I think there’s a least one coming today,” he replied.

“You warm-up and have a look and see the three of them running around the pitch and you think straight away that you’ve got a right flippin’ one today, but it’s just something you’ve got to deal with.”