Belfast Telegraph

David Healy produces video nasty in fury over ref's penalty call

By Conor McLaughlin

By no means is David Healy advocating video replays in the Danske Bank Premiership - but he used one to validate his gut feeling on Tuesday night.

In what must be a first for Irish League football, the Linfield manager produced a laptop at his post-match media briefing at Solitude and played a reverse-angle recording of the incident that led to the penalty his side conceded in their 2-1 loss to Cliftonville.

"At the time, and being completely honest about it, I didn't think it was a penalty," said Healy.

"It's all about opinions. I have mine, the referee has his and different journalists will have theirs, but watch the video and make your mind up."

Filmed from the upper tier of the main stand and presenting a clearer view than the BBC's online footage, the Blues' own video analysis team appeared to capture defender Matthew Clarke making negligible contact with Daniel Hughes, forcing the Reds striker to kick the back of his own heel before tumbling to the ground, with ref Raymond Hetherington pointing to the spot.

Former Linfield midfielder James Knowles stepped up to score and, though Paul Smyth levelled for the visitors early in the second half, Cliftonville consigned Linfield to their first league defeat of the season when Jay Donnelly nodded home shortly afterwards.

"If you're giving penalties for that, I just don't know," sighed Healy. "I've spoken to the referee about it and he's said he'd like another look at it, but I don't think it can be any clearer. There's no tackle, no trip, it's a tangle of legs.

"I thought there were some baffling refereeing decisions over the course of the game, going both ways. Simple things like corner kicks - I counted two Cliftonville corners that were never corners and I saw Gerard (Lyttle) not being able to understand some decisions that went our way too."

There was one particular corner kick that left everyone in the ground flabbergasted when, with Jimmy Callacher having deflected a Jay Donnelly strike behind, the officials seemed to forget which post the ball had crept past and insisted on the set-piece being taken from the wrong side, before eventually changing their minds after vociferous protests led by Blues keeper Roy Carroll.

"That summed it up," said Healy. "When you get something wrong, it can play on your mind and lead to further mistakes. Being truthful about it, if it was me, I'd probably be wondering if I'd got the penalty award right and I might not be thinking straight when it came to more straightforward decisions like that corner.

"But the penalty is the big one. I'm not saying it cost us the game, but the first goal in any match is important and Cliftonville are a good team, so getting back into it after that was tough."

Reds boss Lyttle compared the penalty to one his side conceded against Ballymena United last month when Eamonn Seydak was penalised for a tangle with Conor McCloskey.

"I've not seen any replays but we've had one like that go against us and maybe now we've had one go for us," he said. "They say these things even themselves out and maybe there's an example of it."

Belfast Telegraph


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