IN a weekend where refereeing was once again front and centre of the Irish League agenda, Cliftonville boss Barry Gray questioned whether officials appreciate the implications of their actions.
By no means as critical as Stephen Baxter and Ronnie McFall were of Latvian whistler Andri Treimanis following Glentoran’s ill-tempered draw with Crusaders at The Oval, Gray was nevertheless irked by Jamie Robinson’s decision to book Chris Curran in the closing minutes of the Reds’ 5-1 defeat of Dungannon Swifts.
That caution – Curran’s fifth of the season – rules the Cliftonville skipper out of Saturday’s crucial Danske Bank Premiership clash with Glenavon, much to the bewilderment of the Solitude boss.
“When there’s a bit of a coming together, referees seem to have it in their heads that a booking for one player on each team takes care of it,” explained Gray.
“You see it all the time – there’s a bit of a crowd, it’s hard to tell who’s really done what and, when everything’s done and dusted, it’s a yellow card for one player and a yellow card for another on the other team.
“It’s box-ticking. It’s because there’s an assessor sitting in the stands making sure he does something.
“It’s hard to blame the referee because if he doesn’t show a couple of yellows, he probably gets an X in the box from the assessor.
“I don’t think any yellow cards were needed at all. There was a tackle, we were awarded a free-kick and that’s it, so let’s get on with it.
“Nobody needs booked, but the referee probably feels like he has to be seen to do something – but do they think about the knock-on effects?
“Chris Curran has no idea why he was booked, no idea at all.
“I was pretty close to it all and Chris just happened to be standing there, maybe in the wrong place at the wrong team – but he gets a yellow and that’s him out of a big match for no real reason that we can see.”
Opposite number Kris Lindsay was naturally disappointed to find his side on the wrong end of such a comprehensive scoreline, but was adamant that the result would not derail the progress his men have made in recent times.
“It’s a setback and now we will look to give a response,” he said.
“We’ll look to learn from this but we can’t let it drag us down because we’ve been going in the right direction recently.
“It’s not the sort of game you just dismiss and move on from but, at the same time, we won’t read too much in to it.
“We’ve never got carried away or ahead of ourselves when we’ve won games and we’re not going to get down about losing one either.”
CLIFTONVILLE: Neeson, McGovern, Ives, Harney, C Curran, Garrett (Maguire, 77 mins), R Donnelly (R Curran, 81 mins), Catney (Harkin, 74 mins), McConnell, Gormley, A Donnelly. Unused subs: Breen, McDonald, Bagnall, Lavery.
DUNGANNON: Moore, Hegarty (Dykes, 86 mins,), Wilson, Armstrong, McElroy, Harpur (Burke, 46 mins), O’Rourke, Patton, Lowe, Hutchinson (O’Carroll, 62 mins), Lafferty. Unused subs: McGinty, Coyle, Campbell, Smyth.
REFEREE: Jamie Robinson (Portadown)