Coleraine boss Kearney furious after ref's blunder helps save Linfield
Linfield 1-1 Coleraine
Coleraine boss Oran Kearney last night admitted referee Keith Kennedy's howler cost his team three Danske Bank Premiership points at Windsor Park after Linfield substitute Aaron Burns rammed home a late equaliser.
James McLaughlin shot the Bannsiders into an early second-half lead - one that didn't come under any serious pressure until the Lisburn official stunned everyone by awarding the Blues a corner when the ball had rebounded off Niall Quinn, which led to Burns' goal.
In the aftermath of some furious Coleraine protests, young defender Lyndon Kane was dismissed.
"It was an incredible decision," said Kearney. "I didn't even get a chance to speak to the referee. Under the new rules, you have to wait until 15 minutes after the game. But he was still in with an assessor 20 minutes after that.
"We were out on our feet, as we put in such an effort. It had no right to be a corner... we should have been getting another breather. That's the most frustrating thing.
"It was crazy. I can accept a wrong decision if the margins are small. But I can't accept Adam (Mullan) trying to drill the ball down the pitch and Quinn getting so good a block in that it flies out for a goal kick.
"That's why I was so animated. I really feel hard done by. Lyndon's dismissal capped it all. He assured me he didn't use any foul or abusive language, he merely tried to point out the mistake."
Paul Smyth had an appeal for a penalty when he went down under a challenge from Adam Mullan, but referee Kennedy wasn't impressed. The little striker managed to retain possession before curling a shot into the arms of goalkeeper Chris Johns.
Blues striker Andy Waterworth then tested the big shot-stopper with a cute flick, but Johns got down to paw away.
Against all the odds, Coleraine forged into the lead four minutes after the break. Rodney Brown's cross caused panic in the home defence and when the ball looped kindly for McLaughlin, he hammered past Roy Carroll.
As the clocked ticked down, boss David Healy went for broke by introducing Burns, new boy Josh Carson and striker Michael McLellan.
And it was Burns who salvaged the point with his last-gasp equaliser. Referee Kennedy awarded the controversial corner, which was whipped in by Quinn, and Waterworth got a flick on it for Burns to finish at the back post.
Linfield: Carroll, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Lowry (McLellan 73), Millar (Burns 60), Casement, Mulgrew, Quinn, Gaynor (Carson 60), Smyth Unused subs: Clarke, Fallon.
Coleraine: Johns, Kane, Mullan, Douglas, McCauley, Twigg (McLaughlin 46), Brown, McConachie, Lyons, Parkhill, McGonigle. Unused subs: Higgins, Ogilby, Law, Edgar.
Man of the match: Steven Douglas
Match rating: 6/10.
Referee: Keith Kennedy (Belfast)