Rebecca Welch has become the first female referee to be appointed to a fixture in the English Football League (EFL).
Welch, who is the highest ranking female referee in English football, will officiate the League Two game between Harrogate Town and Port Vale on Monday.
Chief referees Mike Riley and Mike Jones approved the decision for her appointment following ongoing reviews of her performances in other fixtures this season.
She won't however be the first woman to referee a game in the EFL after Amy Fearn came on as a second-half replacement for the injured Tony Bates in Coventry's game against Nottingham Forest in 2010.
"I'm still trying to let it sink in," Welch told said, speaking to Sky Sports News. "I got the news on Saturday and haven't come back down to earth yet. I'm very fortunate to have been given this opportunity and I'm really excited about it.
"My dad is probably my biggest fan, so he's over the moon. My mum doesn't know a lot about football. She's excited, but I don't think she knows why! They're really proud.
"It's not something I thought that, when I decided to be a referee 11 years ago, I would be in the Football League doing a game. That didn't even register on my radar.
"It seems to have been a whirlwind over the past 11 years and now we're a week away from one of the biggest games of my career.
"I've always said, through all my promotions, I want to be appointed because I am in the top 10 match officials on that list. I never want to be appointed based on anything else. I've got faith in the system, and I've been rewarded."
Welch was recently promoted to UEFA's elite category of officials, after refereeing in the National League and also took charge of the Women's FA Cup final at Wembley.
Author: Jake Wilkin