Michael Carvill has been stung by accusations he took a drive during the Irish Cup defeat to Crusaders.
Linfield are licking their wounds after crashing out of the competition they have won for the last three seasons.
A 2-1 fifth round loss at Crusaders on Tuesday evening was a bitter enough pill to swallow.
But Carvill is also upset at claims he hit the deck easily after colliding with Crues keeper Craig Hyland at Seaview.
Expecting referee Colin Burns to point to the spot, the winger was stunned to see a yellow card brandished in his direction (right).
It was a shattering personal blow for Carvill on a dark night for him and Linfield.
The Blues are so far off the pace in the title race — 16 points behind leaders Cliftonville with a game in hand — that the Irish Cup represented their best shot at silverware but now that dream is up in smoke. The Setanta Cup remains a daunting challenge for any Irish League side and while David Jeffrey’s men will give it their best shot, the soul searching is starting with earnest at Windsor Park.
Carvill accepts the Irish Cup defeat was a horrible night at the office — for a variety of reasons.
“It was very disappointing,” admitted the former Charlton man. “The incident in the penalty box upset me and I was annoyed. The first thing I would say is that I wasn’t looking for the penalty — in fact I probably could have went down earlier as David Magowan clipped me but I wanted to stay on my feet and I was able to do that until the keeper came out and caught me.
“When the referee took out his yellow card saying I dived I felt like I was being wound up. I’m not that sort of player. A lot of these incidents aren’t clear cut and it’s not simply a case of saying ‘that’s a penalty’ or ‘if not, that’s a dive and a booking’. I won’t accept any accusations I’m a diver.
“I stayed on my feet but the keeper came flying out and caught me. No penalty was given but Crusaders did get one and I guess that’s how games are decided.”
New Crues keeper Hyland, who was making his debut for the Shore Road side, confirmed afterwards that he thought the referee was right not to award the penalty but he also thought Carvill was very unfortunate to receive a yellow card. Hyland said: “There was a coming together but I didn’t take him out or try to. There was contact though and the booking was harsh on him.
“It’s not always a black and white picture. Sometimes referees can see a dive when there simply isn’t one.”
Carvill is not diving away from Linfield’s failings — he accepts the players have been given a strong reality check.
“The club has done tremendously well to win six doubles in seven seasons but football will not always be like that,” he added.
“You will get painful setbacks and it’s how you react to them that count.
“It’s a reality check and all players need a kick up the backside sometimes.
“You’ve got to learn from these moments and ultimately come out fighting. We hate being so far behind in the league and being out of cup competitions but we have achieved great things as a team and it’s a case of regrouping and getting back to the top. That’s what we all want.”