Portadown boss Ronnie McFall preferred not to exchange New Year greetings with referee Alan Black following Tuesday’s defeat to Crusaders at Seaview.
The understrength Ports lost out to a Gareth McKeown screamer just five minutes from time – a goal that keeps Crusaders’ Premiership ambitions on track.
But McFall was puzzled why Tim Mouncey’s header was disallowed midway through the first half, while he insists the free-kick conceded by Keith O’Hara that ultimately led to McKeown’s winner was not a foul.
“The referee had a shocker over the 90 minutes. At the end of the day, key decisions cost us,” roared Big Ronnie. “We had a perfectly good goal disallowed. Why? I’ll never know. The referee said there were players around the goalkeeper. That was his take on it. It was a clean header by Mouncey. Had we been 1-0 up at half-time, it’s a completely different game.”
The Antrim official issued a second yellow card to O’Hara for a foul on Paul Heatley, but failed to dismiss the midfielder – until he was informed by the fourth official of the earlier booking.
“For a start, it wasn’t a booking,” said McFall. “The referee didn’t even know he had cautioned him before. The fourth official had to tell him.
“These are the guys who are officiating at Premier League games. I’ve no doubt key decisions cost us a result.
“Obviously, when we went down to 10 men, we were a bit disjointed. They scored straight from the free kick.
“The referee booked Chris Ramsey early on, claiming we were ganging up on the player (Heatley), who was diving all over the place. Those were the referee’s words – where he got that from, I just don’t know.
“It was the first foul Ramsey committed. How can you justify that?”
McFall will have new signing from Shamrock Rovers, Gary Twigg, available for the weekend home game against struggling Donegal Celtic. He is also on the prowl for a central midfielder.
“We are still looking, but it’s a job getting one at this time of the season,” he added.
“We were missing a few players for the Crusaders game. Neil McCafferty was out with a groin strain.
“O’Hara played, but he wasn’t 100 per cent fit. We also had Gary Breen and Darren Murray out suspended.
“We are now looking forward to having Twigg on board at the weekend.”