Eddie Patterson was adamant he should not have been sent off by referee Mark Courtney as his team romped to a deserved victory over Donegal Celtic.
The Reds’ manager was banished to the stand on the stroke of half-time after an exchange of views with the Dungannon official — and insisted he was harshly treated.
“The fourth official said that it was for foul and abusive language but I can’t agree with that because, though I admit I swore, it was one word and not directed at anyone.
“We had an incident where, for the second time in the game, the referee needlessly stopped play when we were on the break and I reacted by turning my back, throwing my pen to the ground and saying the ‘F’ word — industrial language, if you will.
“It can’t have been deemed as abusive because I didn’t shout it at anyone. What’s more, a Donegal Celtic player had earlier reacted to a decision by shouting ‘Eff off Mark’ at the referee — but he let that one go.
“The whole thing was just very frustrating and, despite winning, we’re still left talking about officials.”
And that’s before Patterson even had time to pass comment on Donegal Celtic’s controversial penalty award, which came 12 minutes after George McMullan had put Cliftonville in front with a spot-kick of his own.
There seemed to be little doing when Stephen McAlorum got up between Peter Hutton and Ronan Scannell only to head high over the bar, but referee Courtney spotted an infringement worthy of both a spot-kick and a booking for a bemused Scannell.
“How that was a penalty, I’ll never know,” was the honest assessment of DC boss Paddy Kelly afterwards.
“I do actually think we should have had a penalty a few minutes before so maybe things were evened out a bit but, no, I’m not sure where that one came from.”
Paul McVeigh stepped up for a confident conversion and his celebrations in front of the home supporters certainly cranked the atmosphere up a couple of notches with temperatures raised further when Patterson took the long walk.
The drama was suddenly coming thick and fast and there was still time for another goal before the interval, Stephen Garrett netting his first strike for Cliftonville since his summer switch from Newry City — a moment which his manager said was “well deserved and just reward for a player who absolutely works his socks off week in and week out with little personal reward.”
McVeigh’s second of the day levelled matters once again but, within 60 seconds, the Scannell brothers had combined for Chris to poke the Reds 3-2 in front.
Rory Donnelly headed an injury-time security goal to wrap up the points, much to the disappointment of vanquished boss Kelly.
“We had the chances to come away with something,” he said.
“But it’s that same old story once again where we’re letting ourselves down with some very poor defending — and I don’t just mean the back four, I’m talking about as a collective unit from the front.
“To come to Solitude and score twice but come away with no points to show for it is hard to take but we’ve got to start learning lessons.
“Cliftonville were able to score far too quickly after both of our goals which suggests a concentration problem, so that’s one aspect we’ve got to work on when we get a goal for ourselves.”