It was definitely a case of mixed emotions for Coleraine boss Oran Kearney following Saturday’s 1-1 with Glentoran at The Oval.
The Bannsiders controlled large parts of the game and deservedly edged in front on 12 minutes as Ruairi Harkin fired in from the edge of the box. They were pegged back at the start of the second half as old boyse Curtis Allen and Aaron Boyd combined for the equaliser. Boyd slotted home after Allen’s curler came back off the post.
But it was the performance of referee Raymond Heteherington and his assistants which was the main talking point at the end. Not only did the miss a clear handball by John McGuigan from Harkin’s first half free kick, but they also did nothing about Jason Hill’s clear foul on David McDaid as the striker burst clear on goal.
“It is frustrating for us as you look back on those decisions and say they are game changers,” Kearney told Times Sport.
“The handball is as clear as anything and unbelievably the ref and his assistant are the only two people in the ground who seemed to have missed it. The player has jumped and raised his hand and once you do that if the ball hits your hand there’s only one outcome.
“The second decision with Davy is very frustrating as he is punished for trying to be honest.
“There is clear contact but he tries his best to stay on his feet as he told me afterwards he was confident he was going to score, but the contact was enough to bring him down.
“For me it’s a free kick and a red card to Hill. When I spoke to the ref after the game he told me he saw the contact, but he said that because Davy stayed on his feet for another couple of steps he only went down because he felt the chance was gone.
“It’s remarkable as the ref knows there is contact yet our player gets punished for trying to stay on his feet. To think the only thing we got out of those incidents was a yellow card for one of our players for remonstrating is very frustrating.”
Kearney though doean’t want it to take away from another good performance from his players.
“The lads were very disappointed afterwards but I told them to use that as a sign of how far we’ve come over the last few weeks,” he said.
“It was a terrific game and we were in control for large parts of it. Again we are getting back to the work rate and application that we want and the performances are improving every game.
“It’s just frustrating that refereeing decisions hamper you. You don’t look for favours, all you look for is people to make the correct decisions.”
The Bannsiders now have two crucial home games against Cliftonville in the Irish Cup replay tonight (Tuesday) and Ballinamallard United on Friday night.
“The Irish Cup is important to us, we want to get as far as possible in the competition, but we know we’ll have to be at our best to see off Cliftonville.
“The first game at Solitude was a great cup tie and we felt a wee bit unlucky not to have won it on the day. But we know we will have to reproduce that work rate and desire if we are to win tonight. Unfortunately we will be without the suspended Eoin Bradley and Joe McNeill tonight, but it gives other players the chance to come in and stake their claim.”
Meanwhile the winning numbers in the Coleraine FC Lotto for this week were : 2, 5, 8 and 11. There was no jackpot winner. The total is now £2,800.
The winner of the £50 draw is Derek McKirgan, c/o TBF Thompson, Garvagh. The £25 winner is N Leighton, Coleraine.