Preston North End manager Alex Neil takes a swipe at the two red-card decisions in the defeat to Middlesbrough

Preston North End manager Alex Neil has jumped to the defence of himself and skipper Alan Browne after both were sent-off in their defeat to Middlesbrough.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 10:46 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 10:52 pm

Neil saw Browne get a straight red card in the 38th minute for kicking out at Sam Morsy after he'd been caught twice in the head by the Boro midfielder.

At half-time, Neil went on to the pitch to speak to referee Oliver Langford about Brown's dismissal and himself ended-up with a red card.

It saw the Scot watch the second half of the 2-0 defeat at the Riverside Stadium in the lower tier of the main stand.

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Preston North End manager Alex Neil on the touchline against Middlesbrough

Browne's sending-off came with PNE 1-0 down but having put in a vastly improved display than they had at Wycombe last Saturday.

Boro's opener was an own goal from Jordan Storey, with them otherwise creating little in the first 45 minutes.

Neil said: "I'm pretty sure you guys have seen it back. It is an extremely poor decision in my opinion, I have seen it back.

"The lad Sam Morsy hits with a sort of forearm in the back of the head. Sometimes when the ball is there you don't see someone and you catch them..

PNE boss Alex Neil is shown the red card by referee Oliver Langford

"But he was right in front of him, he catches him and flings his arm at him as well.

"Alan instinctively reacts because not only has he been hit once, he's been hit twice. It hard to accept and hard to understand how the referee and his assistants can see Alan's part but not Sam Morsy's part which has basically changed the game in their favour.

"Their player has been the aggressor and our player has reacted off the back of that aggression.

"I thought up until that point for 30 minutes or whatever it was, we played really well, we moved the ball well and were on top of the game, we were aggressive.

Alex Neil shouts instructions from the stand after being red-carded in PNE's defeat at Middlesbrough

"We had an appetite to look to try and win the game, I thought we were the better side to that point.

"We hit the bar, we had a couple of good movements in and around the edge of their box.

"Then there was one average ball into our box and we slice it into the back of our own net.

"I just think at the moment those instances we seem to be on the end of them - silly mistakes which make things really difficult for ourselves.

"I'm always honest with my players and with you guys (the media) after a game.

"On Saturday at Wycombe we lacked any bottle or spirit in the first half but I didn't think we lacked anything tonight.

"I thought they tried, they ran, you could the determination and togetherness. We tried to stay in the game against the odds and had a go."

Neil was asked whether he thought both Browne and Morsy had deserved red cards, rather than just Browne.

He said: "I would probably have still felt aggrieved but a red card each would still have been a fairer decision than the outcome actually was.

"Sam Morsy was the instigator in it, I think he should have got a red card. Then you could debate Alan's involvement afterwards - he certainly wasn't an innocent party.

"I've seen those incidents before, usually the main aggressor gets the most severe punishment and the other one gets a yellow card for reacting off the back of the first incident.

"The fact we got a red and they got nothing, beggar's belief really.."

Turning to his own red card which could land him a touchline ban. Neil insisted he not been aggressive in his action or sworn.

It could well have been the fact he walked so far on to the pitch after the whistle had blown that landed him in deep water.

Neil said: "Going on to the next part, when I went on to speak to the referee I consciously didn't raise my voice, I didn't swear and wasn't aggressive.

"What I said to him was 'You will be disappointed when you see the incident back at half-time because their player hits him with a forearm and then flings his fist at him, you have sent off the wrong player. What you have now done is basically stopped us from being able to have an influence in the game to try and win points'.

"His next line to me was 'Well you will spend the second half in the stand'.

"I said to him 'Why? I have never been sent-off in my managerial career, I'm not being aggressive, I'm not swearing. I just want to let you know my opinion. When you watch it back you will realise you made the wrong decision and ruined our chances of winning the game now'.

"He said to me 'You walked 60 yards to speak to me'.

"I would have waited but what had irritated me more was that we'd had a corner and a header which the keeper tipped over the bar and he blows for half-time.

"When you add up all those incidents in the first half, you get frustrated that you aren't getting anywhere near the right calls in the game or your fair share."

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