Paddy McLaughlin rues late sucker punch after referee's 'wrong' call
Danske Bank Premiership: Crusaders 2 Cliftonville 2
CLIFTONVILLE manager Paddy McLaughlin rued a late Crusaders equaliser at Seaview on Saturday and had choice words for the officials over a call he insists they got wrong.
Second-half goals by Ryan Curran and Michael McCrudden had turned the game in Cliftonville's favour after Jordan Forsythe's first-half opener for the Crues. In-form striker McCrudden was key to Cliftonville's comeback, delivering a pinpoint cross for Curran's effort before putting the visitors in front.
The Reds looked to be leaving the home of their north Belfast rivals with all three points until Philip Lowry levelled the game on 87 minutes with a close-range back heel. The result means Cliftonville remain in fifth place in the Danske Premiership table, three points ahead of Crusaders in sixth, but five behind Glentoran in the crucial third spot. The Glens also have a game in hand.
“It's definitely two points dropped,” said a frustrated McLaughlin of Lowry's late sucker punch.
“I think the second-half performance was excellent. It was a complete turnaround. We dominated the game and chances but then conceded two soft goals from corners.
“We have to learn and improve on that. At 2-1, we had chances to put the game to bed.”
However, it was the second-half incident in which Daire O'Connor was taken down just outside the Crusaders box that really got McLaughlin riled. The Reds were still 1-0 down when the winger's threatening run at the heart of the Crusaders defence was halted unceremoniously, with the Cliftonville bench reacting furiously to referee Ian McNabb's decision to play on.
“The referee, who had a decent game, failed to spot Daire O'Connor being taken out in a one-on-one,” McLaughlin added.
“The officials said they didn't see it, but I don't know how they missed it. We are bitterly disappointed at that because they would be down to 10 men and we could have taken advantage. It's another big call that has gone against us.
“In general play, I thought our boys were superb but the referee got a big call wrong. It's been an ongoing issue about refereeing standards in the league and it needs to be addressed.
“We've had a few big calls that went against us this season. I'm not here to hammer refs but decisions cost teams points and you can't keep ignoring mistakes that can make a huge impact on clubs and players. It's not good enough.”
Elsewhere on Saturday, substitute Andy Waterworth's strike secured league leaders Linfield a point at Inver Park. Ronan Hale had given Larne the lead on the half-hour mark with a well-taken finish from a Martin Donnelly pass.
Coleraine cut the gap to the Blues to 10 points thanks to a 2-1 win at Warrenpoint. Kealan Dillon had put the hosts in front at Milltown before Stephen O'Donnell came off the bench to deliver a winning brace for Coleraine.
A Rory Donnelly double, including a converted header from 35 yards out, helped Glentoran to a 2-0 victory over Dungannon Swifts at the Oval. Glenavon beat Ballymena 3-2 at Mourneview while Portadown were 2-0 victors Carrick Rangers at Shamrock Park.