Mis-firing Crusaders stars get Bax up
Crusaders 2 Glenavon 2
When you are struggling at the bottom of the league the general feeling is that decisions go against you and Glenavon had that awful sinking feeling at Seaview on Saturday.
The Lurgan Blues were just three minutes away from a priceless three points when the referee’s assistant spotted a hand ball from Conor Walsh and Mark Dickson drilled home the equaliser from the penalty spot.
But temperatures in the away dugout had already reached boiling point after referee Stephen Weatherall brandished a red card to their skipper Hugh Dickson in the 71st minute.
Dickson had been booked for kicking the ball away earlier in the half and when Weatherall decided that hesitation when taking a goal kick should be punished with another yellow card, that was the centre-back’s last contribution in a controversial contest.
Glenavon moved off the bottom of the table and will be pleased with the impressive performance of their new singing from Carrick Rangers, striker James Costello, but they still left north Belfast with a burning sense of injustice.
Manager Stephen McBride was so angry at the finish he declined to be interviewed and it’s fair to say the season of goodwill was a fading memory when he discussed the game’s talking points with the man in the middle afterwards.
Baxter admitted the sending off was “extremely harsh” but he was more disappointed with his side’s failure to pocket maximum points.
“Glenavon were much better than when I watched them last Saturday,” he said. “They were workmanlike, they worked very hard to hold us at bay and they played a long ball for a very willing runner up front.
“Their game plan worked but we are extremely disappointed not to win — we should be winning matches like that. We created brilliant chances, not just half chances.
“It’s frustrating when you dominate a match and don’t take chances — this game should have finished 10-3, that would have been a fair reflection. They will feel upset about the sending off of Hugh Dickson but that’s football. We lost a right back at Newry at the start of the season for absolutely nothing and we lost our goalkeeper last Saturday for absolutely nothing and then you are down to ten men. We have had to ride our fair share of difficult decisions as well.
“My players said the penalty was a blatant hand ball and I believe them.”
Jordan Owens put the Crues ahead on 18 minutes but Eamon Murray levelled for Glenavon and Costello fired his side in front before Dickson received his marching orders and his namesake in red and black had the final say.
Baxter will feel some relief after staring defeat in the face but Owens, Martin Donnelly, Colin Coates and David Rainey had chances to kill off the Lurgan side.
“It’s going to be a tight race, we are at the business end of the season and it’s going to be a long run to the tape but everyone is focusing first on a top six finish,” he added.