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Weekends Football 8th/10th November


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Crewe beat Accrington as chaotic FA Cup tie ends without assistant referee

Crewe won 2-0 at Accrington Stanley in an extraordinary three-hour FA Cup first-round tie that ended with just one assistant referee after an injury crisis among the officials.

The first referee, Neil Hair, limped off in the 22nd minute and was replaced in the middle by the fourth official, Alan Clayton – but he picked up an injury and was unable to return for the second half. Crewe took the lead through Charlie Kirk in first-half stoppage time, but the interval lasted over an hour as the two sides discussed how to deal with the situation.

One of the assistant referees, Danny Gratton, eventually took the whistle, but with neither injured official able to run the line, the match resumed with just one assistant. Supporters from both sides volunteered to step in, but the managers agreed to restart with an official short. The second half kicked off at 5.10pm – and a coin-toss decreed that the remaining assistant, Conor Brown, would supervise the Crewe half of the pitch only.

The Crewe manager, David Artell, said that the game could have been paused to give the fourth official time to warm up. “[Clayton] said at half-time that he was injured. I am not surprised because the fourth official doesn’t have time to warm up properly.”

“I would like to see him given 10 minutes to get his body temperature up and perhaps warm up with some sprints,” he added. “I know it would delay the players for 10 minutes but then you don’t run the risk of the officials getting another injury.”

On the half-time delay, Artell said: “The son of [Accrington assistant] Jimmy Bell offered to do it and I agreed, but then he didn’t want to do it. Then a Crewe fan volunteered to do it and they [Accrington] wouldn’t agree to that.”

“I agreed to everything and there was a call made to the FA and head of referees and they said that the game had to be played with one assistant, so we did. I didn’t want to have to come back. I was thinking of [Crewe] supporters who had spent their hard-earned money.”


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