ORAN Kearney told Times Sport his side were fully deserved of their point as the game as the manner of the Bannsiders equaliser overshadowed the actual game.
The home side were up in arms as referee Tim Marshall awarded Coleraine a second half penalty. The whole ground was left wondering what the spot kick was awarded for, but his decision was vindicated by the television highlights, which clearly showed linesman’s flag for offside was the wrong call.
And when Joshua Robinson handled the ball, despite play continuing the ref had no other choice than to award the penalty.
“I think if Curtis had buried his shot, everyone would have been praising the referee for a great decision,” said Kearney.
“As it was, the only criticism I would have is that he didn’t clearly signal that play hadn’t stopped. Watching the highlights back this morning, some of our players had stopped as well as most of the Crusaders players and obviously the penalty came as one of them handled the ball thinking it wasn’t in play.
“It’s an unusual way of getting the equalising goal, but I felt it was no less than we deserved. We were dominant in the second half and I was confident we’d get a goal.
“We started the game quite slowly, probably a little bit of a hangover from the Linfield game and weren’t firing on all cylinders.
“Maybe last season we would have lost this game, however, the longer the game went on, the stronger we became and there was only one team looking to win it in the closing stages.
“It’s an important lesson to us as well about the importance of always playing to the whistle.”
Kearney said he had a degree of sympathy for the ref adding it was a “brave decision” from the young official.
“I have experienced Tim refereeing in the Championship with Limavady, and he has a bright future ahead of him. I think he will be a good ref in the future,” Kearney said.
“At this stage of the season, maybe you have to question was it wise using inexperienced officials. It was always going to be a big ask in a game between second and fourth in the table.
“It was a tough game, but I think he has got the big decision right. The ball came from a Crusaders player so it couldn’t have been offside. He is played on, and in the fraction of a second the player has decided to lift the ball without hearing a whistle.
“To be fair it was a courageous decision, even though it has been a freaky one.
“It takes a certain type of person to referee, and it is a tough job.”