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Player turns bodyguard for ref
July 30th, 2008 7:01AM



[REF WATCH] Referee Matt Stoneman found himself in a difficult situation when he allowed a controversial goal in a Pacific Premiership soccer match in New Zealand.

Port Hill scored in the 27th minute of the match but Western Rangers claimed that the goal should have been disallowed because of offside. Before the game was restarted, Stoneman sent off Rangers captain Owen West and player/coach Jeremy Birss for protesting the decision. After the pair told their teammates to leave the field, Rangers fans ran onto the field and confronted the official.

As the possibility of a physical altercation became more and more likely, Port Hill substitute Mitch O'Brien came to the rescue, saving Stoneman from the angry spectators.

"They were swearing at him and he's only a young fellow and he seemed to be quite intimidated by that so I told them to get lost," O'Brien said. "One of them gave me a headbutt so I gave them one back. You know he doesn't have to be scared of that sort of nonsense, mate,' he said.

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