Sport Soccer

Sunday 22 April 2018

Norwich fan forced to stand in as fourth official in farcical scenes

Preston manager Alex Neil was delighted with his side's performance at his former hunting ground of Carrow Road as they picked up a deserved 1-1 draw against Norwich.

The Canaries had to be content with a point after Tom Barkuizen popped with a second-half equaliser after a superb James Maddison free-kick had put them in front.

"I was absolutely delighted with our performance today," said Neil, who guided Norwich to the Premier League during his spell in Norfolk.

"We were up against a Norwich side with a lot of good players and I thought we were the better side today and deserved to win.

"We were excellent in spells and created the better chances over the course of the 90 minutes. I am proud of my players and it says it all that they were disappointed in the dressing room afterwards even though they had picked up a point away from home.

"We have got a few players back from injury and you could see that today. I think people should judge us by the results we are getting now and not by what happened during our difficult run, when we had a lot of players out."

The second half lasted almost an hour after assistant Mark Jones hobbled off with a painful groin injury as the game headed for its conclusion.

There was a long delay as a call went out for a new fourth official, with Jones in no fit state to take on that role, and in the end local referee David Thornhill, who was watching the game, came forward.

Neil revealed afterwards that had had played a role in solving the problem for referee Tim Robinson.

"When the referee came over and told us what was happening I looked round and saw David in the stands, who is someone I know through his brother when I was at Norwich.

"He said 'I'm a referee, I can help' and I pointed him out to the match official. Fortunately it was eventually sorted out but to be honest it was a bit of a farce in the end because of the long delay, with players going down with injuries after being kept hanging around for so long."

The delay also frustrated Norwich boss Daniel Farke, who added: "After the delay it was difficult for us to find our rhythm at a time when we were pushing for the winner. I come from a time when there was just a referee and two linesmen and no fourth official and it would have been good if we could have just carried on with the game but these are the rules now."

Farke's side are now without a win in six games but he felt his side's performances was an improvement on the previous home game against Barnsley, another 1-1 draw.

"It was certainly better than that," he said. "I thought we started well and had some good chances and deserved to be ahead at half-time. In the second half we had more good chances and if we had made it 2-0 I am sure we would have gone on to win the game."

Press Association

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