By: Mark Henderson on 16 Apr, 2017 15:41
BRENDAN Rodgers reckons the dreadful refereeing decision that cost Celtic three points against Ross County today was one of the worst he has ever seen.
Patrick Roberts’ fine individual effort 12 minutes from time looked to have secured a well-deserved victory for the champions, after Kieran Tierney’s long-range strike had been cancelled out by Michael Gardyne’s looping header.
But in the dying moments of the match, Staggies substitute Alex Schalk clearly went down in the box without any contact from Erik Sviatchenko. Incredibly, referee Don Robertson awarded a penalty, which Liam Boyce converted to salvage a share of the spoils draw for his side.
And speaking to Celtic TV, the manager was mystified at how the officials had failed to spot such a blatant case of simulation.
He said: “I have seen a lot of bad decisions since coming up here, and sometimes you can see it from the referee’s perspective, but that one was awful. It was up there with the worst.
“We had good control of the game. We were pegged back in that early period just after half time but we found a way to get back in front again, as this team does. We were seeing it through pretty comfortably, keeping the ball and looking like we are going to score a third, and then the referee takes the points away from us.
“It was a really bad decision. I look at it and you have a linesman on that side who is about 20 yards away and doesn’t help him, you have a fourth official who doesn’t help, and the referee was in actually in a good position – so how between the three of them, they don’t see it is absolutely remarkable. It has cost us the three points and it was a really sour end to the game after a really good performance.
The Hoops boss added: “It was an awful, awful decision. I am disappointed for the players as they put so much into the game, having to break down 11 men behind the ball and we got two excellent goals and the reward for that should have been three points.”
The controversial decision overshadowed the positives for the Bhoys, who are now unbeaten in 40 domestic matches since the start of the season. Tom Rogic and Moussa Dembele both returned to the starting XI following spells on the treatment table, while the manager was also pleased by the performances of goalscorers Tierney and Roberts, a second-half substitute.
He said: “Kieran played in the back-three. We tried to take a chance today to look at one or two players in different positions and see how they coped, and I thought Kieran was excellent. Tom Rogic started and Moussa made his first start in a little while since being out. Whether Pat comes on or he starts, he is absolutely brilliant. It was a magical goal for him and it should have been the winner.
To compound Celtic’s disappointment, an understandably frustrated Scott Brown received a straight red card shortly after the penalty decision for a late challenge on Boyce, which could rule him out for some crucial fixtures.
The manager said: "Again, the poor refereeing decisions have probably wound him up. I am not sure what the rules are here. If he is out, that’s the way it is and we have to look within the squad."