Bizarre end to PNE's draw at Norwich after linesman is injured

Preston North End manager Alex Neil said the closing stages of his side's draw with Norwich City had been a 'farce' after one of the assistant referees was injured.

Neil was in no way critical of what happened but admitted a lengthy delay as the official was replaced had halted any momentum the contest had.

Darnell Fisjer and Josh Harrop during the long delay in the latter stages of the game

Darnell Fisjer and Josh Harrop during the long delay in the latter stages of the game

Assistant referee Mark Jones, running the line on the far side of the ground, pulled up with a leg injury in the 82nd minute.

Fourth official Andy Davies stepped-in to take over from Mr Jones but referee Tim Robinson was reluctant to allow play to resume until a replacement fourth official was found.

The rules are that an injured official should not have any further part in the game, even just doing fourth official duties at the side of the pitch.

Eventually, Norwich fan David Thornhill came forward from the crowd to offer his services, Mr Thornhill being a local league referee.

Daniel Johnson holds off Ivo Pinto

Daniel Johnson holds off Ivo Pinto

Mr Thornhill removed his Norwich shirt and took over as fourth official wearing a referee's jacket and jeans.

The game finished in a 1-1 draw, Tom Barkhuizen's 70th minute goal equalising a first-half free-kick from James Maddison.

Neil said: "The most bizarre bit was the linesman coming off having sustained an injury.

"The referee rightly applied the rules which meant the linesman couldn't stand at the side of the pitch.

PNE's Calum Woods

PNE's Calum Woods

"However when players have played 80 minutes and have put as much into the game as they did, they were going to be at risk of injury in that last part of the game having been stood around in the cold for 10 minutes.

"I thought the game up to that point was good but the last 10 minutes became quite a farce to be honest because you are worried about players getting injured more than anything else.

"What the referee said to me was that they needed to put an announcement out to find a new fourth official to take the place of the one now running the line.

"He never talked about an abandonment of the game, had he done so I would have began to worry.

"It is what it is, the referee didn't do anything wrong, just circumstances proceeded to make the game a bit of a farce at the end.

"I think five lads went down from both sides in that final spell because they had put so much into the game."

It was Neil who actually alerted the referee to Mr Thornhill's availability.

The North End boss, who managed Norwich for more than two years, said: "Fortunately there was a qualified referee in the stand.

"I'm quite familiar with some of the people down here having spent two years at Norwich.

"He shouted over to me 'I'm a referee' so I made the referee aware of that.

"I wanted the game to re-start the game as possible, he came on and did his duty.

"Taking all of that aside, I was really pleased with how well we did."