Manager Barry Gray pointed an accusing finger at referee Tim Marshall, claiming his ‘inconsistency’ robbed Warrenpoint Town the opportunity of pinching a result at Seaview.
The Irvinestown official’s performance was the main focal point after this feisty Premiership affair - with Gray struggling to keep his emotions in check.
A second half double blast by Paul Heatley tilted the game in Crusaders favour.
But by the time he bagged his second, nine minutes from the end, The Point were down to 10 men following the dismissal of Stephen Moan after a robust tackle on Heatley, which ignited a ‘free-for-all’.
“The referee’s performance left me totally frustrated - he was so inconsistent,” claimed Gray. “Managers now seem to be talking about referees after every game.
“We never got any decisions at all - until the last 10 minutes when the game was out of our reach. There was some poor decision making out there and his assistants on the line did not help matters.
“Last week we had a Welsh official and the Cliftonville fans and their personnel on the bench didn’t like it at all because he didn’t give the 50-50 decisions their way. He was fair... he gave it as he seen. You don’t get that from local officials.”
Gray was also irate at Marshall’s handling of the incident that led to Moan’s dismissal.
He added: “I’m not sure about the sending off... I would need to see it again. But Colin Coates was pulling down people from the first until the last minute and didn’t even receive a booking.
“Daniel Hughes had to come off before half-time because he was chopped down on three occasions... there were no bookings handed out.
“That was a game changer, because he is our leading striker. The location of the tackle didn’t help - right in front of the Crusaders dug-out.
“The referee made his decision even before he approached the incident, without consulting his assistant or the fourth official, who were both a lot closer.”
Heatley broke the deadlock on 65 minutes with a wonderful strike following a defence-splitting pass from Chris Morrow.
He did again nine minutes from time, poking the ball under goalkeeper Johnny Parr following a delicious pass from substitute David McMaster.
“Paul was sensational, from start to finish,” beamed Crues boss Stephen Baxter. “His two goals were superb. Warrenpoint made life difficult for us. They were well organised and worked incredibly hard. They have a good shape about them -- they play to their strengths.”