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Irish Cup: Officials' apology won't ease pain for Portadown, says Gault

By Conor McLaughlin

Amid claims of faulty headsets and miscommunication, Michael Gault says an apology from Saturday's Irish Cup final officials will come as no comfort to anyone at Portadown.

The midfielder was incandescent with rage when, between them, referee Ross Dunlop, linesman Richard Storey and additional assistant Raymond Crangle failed to penalise William Garrett for a cynical trip as Gault attempted to race through on goal nine minutes into the second half.

To make matters worse, the trio also missed Glentoran keeper Elliott Morris picking up Garrett's backpass and beginning the move which ended with David Scullion banking the only strike of the game.

Television replays captured an astonished Gault remonstrating with the officials and, having had time to sleep on it and reflect, it's fair to say the former Linfield skipper's mood hasn't changed.

"I couldn't believe it at the time and I still can't," he says.

"The only person who seems to think I could have stayed on my feet was (Crusaders boss and TV analyst) Stephen Baxter for some reason. I don't know where he's got that from.

"It was a clear foul, a free-kick and a red card. I can't even remember what I was saying to the officials at the time but I turned round and the ball was in the net at the other end.

"I was actually out of position and we might have been able to prevent the goal had I been where I was supposed to be, but I just couldn't understand why nothing was given - either for the foul or for the keeper lifting the backpass.

"The officials said they'd apologise if they got it wrong but what good is that? I've spoken to Raymond Crangle and he admits they made a mess of it but that's no use to us."

It has been suggested that a technical glitch with the officiating team's headsets prevented Crangle from advising Dunlop that a free-kick should have been awarded against Garrett but video footage appears to show the goal-line assistant doing little more than chewing gum as the Ports' fury unfolded.

Gault added: "Raymond told me he tried to tell the referee and the linesman that it was a foul but their microphones weren't working. I asked him why he didn't wave his arms or walk onto the pitch or something like that and he said he didn't know and that that's what he should have done.

"It just seems to be week after week that things like this are happening. Big decisions from referees and officials are having an impact on matches.

"I'm not saying they're cheats or anything like that. They're not targeting clubs or players, it's just that some of their performances haven't been good enough."

Ports boss Ronnie McFall echoed those sentiments in a typically forthright evaluation.

"It was a trip and straight red card, the television pictures clearly show that," he blasted.

"Gary Twigg was also pulled down in the box in the first half and there was a blatant handball in the second half but the referee and officials just weren't up to it.

"They keep making major mistakes and they are never downgraded. Things carry on as if nothing happened.

"It's a straight red card and free-kick for us. And it's not one person making a decision, you have the assistant and man behind the goals and they missed these incidents?

"I'm looking at the standard of refereeing and some of them should still be in junior football, learning the game."

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