Preston North End should have had a man advantage says boss Alex Neil
Alex Neil has questioned why there was not a red card for Fulham winger Anthony Knockaert in Preston’s defeat at Craven Cottage.
Knockaert appeared to put his hand in Darnell Fisher’s face in the first half but got away with just a warning from referee David Webb.
PNE boss Neil, who made his feelings known at the time to fourth official Gavin Ward, said: “I asked the referee about it and he said it wasn’t contact enough.
“So I was asking do you need to punch someone hard to make sure he goes down?
“Whether you hit someone in the face, whether it is a flick of your hand or a punch, at the end of the day you have lifted your hand.
“As far as I was concerned I don’t think there was any question that it was a red card.
“It happened five yards from me, he lifted his left hand and caught Darnell in the face.
“We’d had Darnell sent off at West Bromwich, which was overturned.
“If Darnell had lifted his hand, I don’t think there is any question he would have been off the pitch.
“Some referees will give it, other referees won’t.
“The fourth official told me ‘He’s a lenient referee’. There was another one when Sean Maguire got pulled back on the edge of the box and it should have been a booking.
“I’m not one to campaign for bookings – I don’t mind the physicality of the game.
“If both teams are able to go and fight it out, happy days for me – I’ve no issues.
“But with the foul on Sean it was a promising attack and we were driving at a back two.”
Neil thinks certain players are more likely to come under scrutiny from referees than others.
Reputation does go before some players, hence why Neil thought Fisher got a card red last week, one which PNE successfully appealed to the FA.
Said Neil: “There are certain players in our team who get more attention.
“If Tom Barkhuizen did what Knockaert did, I’m not sure it would have been a red card.
“Had Darnell Fisher or Ben Pearson had done it, I think 100% it is a red card.
“That shouldn’t be the case at the end of the day.
“If it is a mistimed tackle I understand showing a little bit of leniency to forward players because they don’t tackle so much.
“When it is lifting your hand and hitting someone in the face, regardless of who it is, your action is unacceptable.”