Awford calls for rule change

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Pompey boss Andy Awford has called on football chiefs to take action to prevent a repeat of Saturday’s Rodney Parade controversy.

And he believes extra responsibilities for fourth officials is the answer.

Andy Awford, right, has a word with the officials. Picture: Joe Pepler

Andy Awford, right, has a word with the officials. Picture: Joe Pepler

The Blues were incensed when Newport County’s Mark Byrne’s 67th-minute winner was allowed to stand despite the linesman’s flag being raised.

While it was correctly adjudged an offside Aaron O’Connor didn’t get the final touch, Awford was furious the striker was instead not pulled up for interfering with play.

Paul Jones’ protests about his view being obscured earned him a yellow card from referee Michael Bull.

After the 1-0 defeat, Awford had a lengthy discussion in the officials’ changing room.

And, having failed to be appeased by the outcome, called for change.

He said: ‘I didn’t realise this until the referee told me but the fourth official is not allowed to comment on offside decisions, that is an FA rule.

‘The linesman can’t see if he is interfering because he is the other side of the pitch, the referee probably hasn’t got the best of views – but we are right in line with it.

‘Why can’t he say to his fourth official down his microphone: “Was he interfering?”.

‘The obvious answer was yes, there is no doubt about that, we have seen that.

‘I didn’t need the video to clarify it at the time but apparently that is not something a fourth official can get involved with.

‘Substitutes can be done by the kit man, me and Justin (Edinburgh) can tell each other to step back into the technical area.

‘So if he (fourth official) can help, why can’t he help? I don’t get that. I think there needs to be a change in the rules.

‘If a player had been stood in front of Paul Jones and was running back I would have understood that, he’s not offside.

‘But what I don’t understand is if he is running forward and across the line of the ball and in Paul’s eyes then how is that not offside for interfering with play?

‘The referee told me that when he ran over to his linesman it was to ask if he (O’Connor) touched it.

‘They didn’t ask each other if he was interfering, they didn’t even consider that.

‘I knew he hadn’t touched it.

‘The question should be is he in an offside position interfering with play – and blatantly yes.’

There was more controversy in the 40th minute when Byrne fouled Jed Wallace inside the penalty area – but no spot-kick was given.

Even the Newport midfielder afterwards admitted it was a foul.

Awford added: ‘The referee thought there was contact outside the box so I said: “Then why didn’t you give a free-kick?”. And he couldn’t answer me.

‘I hate criticising referees but they have to get the big decisions right.’