Despite ending in a draw, things were far from level between Glentoran and Cliftonville on Saturday. Admissions of defeat were angrily sought at the Oval by Glens boss Eddie Patterson – targeting referee Mervyn Smyth and his performance.
The balance of a 1-1 scoreline belies how tempers flared. Patterson labelled Smyth as “Dick Turpin” and described his show, which produced seven yellow cards, one straight red and a penalty for the visitors, subsequently missed by George McMullan, as “a joke”.
His comments, however, could land him in hot water. Video footage and photographs of the incident, involving the dismissed Stephen McAlorum’s challenge on Chris Curran, depict the dangerous nature of the tackle. But Patterson insisted Smyth made the wrong call on this and other incidents.
It could lead to a fine for Patterson and the club, or a suspension.
“It was absolutely farcical,” he fumed. “The first challenge a Glentoran player made, he was booked.
“It’s a joke. He was dropped after the Coleraine game against us, and the Portadown one.
“If this guy has something against Glentoran football club – or me - come and see me.”
Mark Miskimmin rolled in his fifth of the season two minutes into first-half injury time while Jordan Stewart ran rings around Ronan Scannell.
However controversial, Ciaran Caldwell became Cliftonville’s inspired substitution, snatching the equaliser just three minutes after coming on, and in the same 69th minute which McMullan’s spot-kick was saved by Elliott Morris.
But the game’s dynamic changed when McAlorum, who had only been on for six minutes, replacing Marcus Kane as a 54th minute substitute, was sent off.
Smyth had the backing from assessor David Best, who insisted he agreed with every big decision awarded, while the referee himself democratically described it as “a very challenging game” to arbitrate.
The referee said: “It was a challenging match but I go out every week to be impartial. There were a number of marginal calls but I give decisions as I see it.”