Not for the first time this season and I am sure not for the last time the match official and his assistants were the main talking point after Cliftonville’s 3-0 win against Carrick Rangers on Saturday.
Goals from David McDaid and two from Stephen Garrett sealed the win for the Reds but match official Mervyn Smyth will not be on either manager’s Christmas card list this year after sending-off Cliftonville’s Daniel Hughes in the 74th minute after awarding him a penalty after a coming together with Carrick keeper Brian Neeson.
The two players did collide and their was handbags afterwards - but after discussing the incident with his assistants - the referee pointed to the spot and sent-off a bemused Hughes.
The incident will definitely make it onto television programme Question of Sport’s - What happens next? - but Reds manager Gerard Lyttle was not impressed with the referee’s decision.
“I have asked the referee to explain his decision and he can’t. He can’t give me an answer and he has made a huge mistake.
“He has now got to hold his hands up and admit it. He says his team made the decision but they have got it wrong.
“It is the most bizarre decision I have ever witnessed and at the time he let the game go on and now I still think he is running away.
“He can’t give us an answer but we are down an important player for Boxing Day against Crusaders. We are now at a loss and here today we are down to the bare bones - so this is the last thing we needed,” said Lyttle.
And Carrick Rangers manager Aaron Callaghan agree that the referee had got it totally wrong.
“There is something wrong. Is it the training of the referees? The referee played on when Neeson caught the ball. There is also going to be contact as they were running towards each other - but he played on and then the assistant makes a decision from 60 yards away. But for the referee to go back and say that is a penalty is crazy.
“The sending-off was the right call but to give a penalty was a ridiculous decision.
“I hope they review it on tape as those are the type of decisions that can cost managers their jobs.
“The game was still 2-0 at that stage and we had hit the bar just before that but 3-0 and the game is over.
“I don’t think we deserved anything from the game as they were the better side but to make a decision like that is not right,” he added.
And Callaghan says Tuesday night’s 2-0 League Cup semi-final win against Glenavon may have weakened his side.
“That is the highs and the lows of football and maybe that effected us,” he added.