Ian Baraclough has hit out at the decision to send Jamal Lewis off during Saturday evening’s World Cup qualifying defeat in Switzerland.
The Northern Ireland full-back was dismissed after just 36 minutes in Geneva, shown a second yellow card for time-wasting over a throw-in.
There were 23 seconds between the ball going out of play and the card being shown, with Lewis reportedly having the ball in hand for 15 of those.
For the NI boss Baraclough and Switzerland attacker Xherdan Shaqiri, the most likely explanation is that referee Slavko Vinčić had forgotten that he had already rightly booked Lewis for hauling down Breel Embolo.
“To be warned for time wasting after 37 minutes… I think he’s forgotten he hasn’t spoken to Jamal once,” Baraclough told Sky Sports. “The first time he’s asked him to hurry up, he brings out the yellow card. And then I think he realised he’s booked him and he can’t go back on his decision.
“I think it’s a terrible decision.
“He’s not realised that he’s booked him earlier on. He’s not given Jamal any warning of hurrying up so he’s got no clue that he’s on a warning for any sort of time-wasting.
“It’s an absolutely diabolical decision and it’s changed the course of the game.
“The home team want to get the game going. Yes we want to play at our tempo and manage the game but there was certainly no warning that people are going to be booked or something is going to be done if we don’t hurry up.
“On 37 minutes, somebody is sent off for his first indiscretion, in his (the referee’s) mind.
“I think he totally forgets.”
Baraclough claimed he could not get any form of explanation from the officials.
“I didn’t get to speak to them because they just don’t want to listen,” he added. “There is no conversation going on. There is no talking. That’s the annoying thing as well, you want an explanation. They knew they had made a mistake.
“The Swiss didn’t need any help. A lot of decisions that were 50:50 went their way, and sometimes you have to accept that when you’re going away from home.
“The crowd, the players are asking for decisions. It’s a big decision in a split second for a referee to make and it’s far easier for him to make it for the home team.”
Former Liverpool attacker Shaqiri was understandably more pleased about the decision and claimed that the Northern Ireland players had already been warned for trying to run down the clock.
“This is football sometimes,” he said. “They started winning time in the beginning. We have to play the game. In the end you win maybe 15 minutes from the game. The referee didn’t like this. He told them 10 times or I don’t know how many times not to wait, so many times.
“Maybe the referee didn’t know that he had already (given) the yellow card. Probably he regretted the red card.”