Rodney McAree angered by officials as penalty decision costs Coleraine dear

Coleraine boss Rodney McAree
Coleraine boss Rodney McAree

Coleraine boss Rodney McAree blasted referee Steven Gregg after his award of a late penalty gave Cliftonville a lifeline in Tuesday night's Europa League play-off semi-final.

With the game in the sixth minute of stoppage time Gregg pointed to the spot after a tangle of legs between Josh Carson and Ryan Curran sent both players to the deck.

The Coleraine players and officials were left dumbfounded by the call which looked soft.

Curran scored the spot kick to send the game into extra time, before the Reds kicked on and scored two more to set up a showdown with Glentoran in Saturday's final.

McAree though was fuming with the decision afterwards, which he felt cost his side a place in Europe and a potential £200,000 windfall.

"We find ourselves 3-1 up and then we lose the game in extra time, it all hinges on a decision," he said.

"Not that long ago in the semi final of the Irish Cup went against us and killed us, and I genuinely feel that there is another decision that's went against us tonight.

"It has given Cliftonville a lifeline. They had a lot of pressure and we had to soak a lot of it up, but I thought we had done that.

"I thought it was a free kick out when it happened at the time.

"Josh Carson is goal side of it, there's a tangle of legs, but that's caused by the Cliftonville player. It looks like a poor decision from our point of view."

Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin though felt the officials got the decision right.

"I think it was a penalty, I know Coleraine disagree with that, but I wouldn't expect them to agree with it with it coming so late on," he said.

"I think the player has gone in with the tackle and missed the ball completely, it's a foul to be honest."