Palace boss vents fury at referee's assistant

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Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock accused a referee's assistant of "incompetence" after seeing his side's hopes of an FA Cup shock dashed at Selhurst Park.

Palace were leading 2-1 with three minutes to go when Aston Villa were awarded a corner by referee Kevin Friend on the say-so of his assistant referee Trevor Massey. Villa's Stiliyan Petrov scored the equaliser with a header from the resulting corner, which took the game to a replay for the right to travel to West Brom or Reading in the quarter final.

But Warnock claimed the corner came off Villa's Nathan Delfouneso and said: "It's disappointing. It's bitter. A referee and a linesman should see from that position that it is a goalkick and not a corner. They've both waited, the ref's asked him (Massey) and the thing is he didn't see it really. He gave it to Aston Villa and they score a goal."

Warnock added: "Mr Massey says if he's got it wrong he will be suspended for a couple of games. I said to him 'When you're sat on your settee when you're suspended will you think about us'?

"The referee had a great game. He was let down by somebody who had a very poor game and I don't feel any sympathy if he is suspended. Personally I hope it is a long time.

"Does he realise how hard it is at a club who can't even afford this, that and the other? We came up against a top side and we're giving absolutely everything for the cause and we are not let down by a football matter. We are let down by incompetence."

Austrian defender Johnny Ertl put Palace ahead with a first-half header which was equalised by a carbon-copy effort from James Collins.

It looked as if Palace had pulled off the upset, however, when Darren Ambrose fired home a thunderbolt of a free kick, only for Petrov to poach the equaliser.

Warnock, however, was at least delighted that Palace, who went into administration with £30million debts a fortnight ago, now stand to pick up the best part of £500,000 in television cash for the two matches.

"We wanted to take them back there (Villa Park) if we are honest," said Warnock. "Let's get up there and then get on with the league."

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