I'm embarrassed for Irish FA after 'laughable' refereeing display: Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter
The Crues' chief has asked for an apology for the IFA
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter has given a scathing assessment of the refereeing performance in his side's 2-2 draw with Glentoran at the Oval.
The Crues had two players sent off while Glentoran's John McGuigan was also dismissed during a contentious clash, officiated by Latvian referee Andris Treimanis.
Kyle Owens was the first to go, sent off for two yellows. The first was for bundling Robbie McDaid over the touchline but the second was given after the centre-half had won a header. After the referee brandished the yellow card for the second time, it seemed players had to remind him about the first before the red card was also produced.
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Control was lost on the stroke of half-time when a rash Marcus Kane challenge on Paul Heatley incited a mass brawl involving players and coaching staff from both teams. Rory Patterson and McGuigan were both sent off.
"That's the worst refereeing performance I've seen in 30 years of being in football," an incensed Baxter told the BBC, directing his criticism at the IFA rather than the official himself.
"I feel embarrassed for our football association bringing a referee in to handle a game like this because you can't witness that type of stuff. The game was beyond him. The decision making was farcical and when you've two managers, Ronnie (McFall) and myself, chatting the whole way through the game about laughable decisions - about decisions that are yellow cards or red cards that are waves away and then yellows and reds that (shouldn't be).
"You really had to be here to see it and believe it. I blame the IFA for organising these exchange programmes - I don't blame the referee, in fact I felt sorry for him in the end.
"It was farcical and it's not fair on the teams.
"It's just beyond a joke and this is the second year it has happened to us around this sort of exchange programme. As soon as I saw it, I feared what might happen and I watched it unfolding in front of us.
"It's unfair for everybody, for our players. When you see Rory Patterson and Kyle Owens sitting the changing room with faces like Lurgan spades, they'll go home and have terrible weekend and (the officials) will go to the hotel, have steak dinners and fly home. It's not fair, simple as.
"Our association need to apologise to our football club and to Glentoran football club for producing this today."
Baxter hailed his team for securing a draw despite player the second half with only nine men:
"I think you saw nine bravehearts out there in the second half. Very pleased with what we produced and proud of the team."
Belfast Telegraph Digital