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Gary Hamilton: I've been close to quitting Irish League football because of referees

Linfield 2 Glenavon 0

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Ref justice: Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton protests after Christy Manzinga is shown a yellow card when Hamilton thought it should be red

Ref justice: Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton protests after Christy Manzinga is shown a yellow card when Hamilton thought it should be red

Ref justice: Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton protests after Christy Manzinga is shown a yellow card when Hamilton thought it should be red

Angry Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton admitted he sometimes contemplates his future in the game because of the poor standard of refereeing in the Irish League.

Hamilton was once again left fuming following a bizarre and controversial incident that took place against Danske Bank Premiership table-topping Linfield at Windsor Park on Saturday.

Blues' substitute Christy Manzinga was only on the pitch for merely two minutes when he clashed off-the-ball with Glenavon defender Daniel Larmour.

Frustrated Hamilton believes the big striker should have been red carded, alleging he not only kicked out, but punched his opponent.

David Healy's Blues were manfully defending a 1-0 lead, established in the first half through an exquisite goal from Stephen Fallon, who delightfully lobbed the ball over the advancing Johnny Tuffey.

Then, with 14 minutes remaining, Niall Quinn's free kick was met by Manzinga, whose header was spilled by Tuffey, leaving Shayne Lavery with a tap-in.

An irate Hamilton bolted from the dugout at the finish to confront referee Jamie Robinson - and this rime the Portadown official did produce a red card.

"Another big decision has gone against us," said Hamilton. "To be honest, I've considered packing in the game because of refereeing decisions like that.

"We are all in jobs at the minute, but we all could be out of a job in a couple of weeks' time because it's all about winning and getting results. But some things are totally out of our control.

"Yes, players can let you down. We came to Windsor Park last season and were beaten by eight and seven goals respectively. I went home after those performances, questioning myself, am I the right man for the job?

"We prepared so well for this game, our game plan was good. We were not overrun at any stage against a team that have now won every game in this league.

"To play and compete the way we did was superb. Then, everything is ripped from us by a decision like that, which really gets to me. The officials must have seen something because they gave him (Manzinga) a yellow card.

"He kicked out (at Larmour), which everyone on our bench witnessed, and then he turned round and punched him. I'm sure the television cameras caught it as well.

"The thing that frustrates me is everyone in the ground saw what happened, including the Linfield players and staff on the bench. They were pleading with Manzinga to calm down because they knew he got away with it.

"I don't know how the referee came to his decision by issuing a yellow card. The fourth official, Peter McGrath, said it wasn't a violent act.

"I then asked the referee on the way off and he said Manzinga flicked out (at Larmour. I inquired if it was a punch, and he said no 'there was no punch'. He then sent me off because I said something I shouldn't have. It's difficult to hold your emotions in a scenario like that.

"There seems to be a different scenario that changes the outcome of a game every week. Yes, Linfield were 1-0 up, but I thought we were well in the game. They weren't really causing us any problems.

"To make matters worse, Manzinga had a hand in their second goal when he shouldn't even have been on the pitch."

Blues boss David Healy said he didn't have a good view of the incident, so wasn't in a position to give a verdict. And, he wasn't entirely happy with his team's showing.

"I know I'm a bit hard to please, but our performance was average - we can do better," said the former Northern Ireland striker.

"Can I ask for more? Yes, I will."

LINFIELD: Johns, Pepper, Haughey, Callacher, Quinn, Millar, McClean, Fallon, Nasseri (Manzinga 65), Stewart (Mulgrew 75), Waterworth (Lavery 65). Subs not used: Walsh, Larkin, Clarke, Kearns.

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Ward, Doyle, Larmour, Singleton, McCloskey (Hall 83), Garrett (O'Mahony 61), O'Connor, Snoddy, Fitzpatrick, Purkis (Moorehouse 61). Subs not used: Byrne, Jenkins, Harmon, Norton.

Referee: Jamie Robinson (Portadown).

Man of the match: Stephen Fallon

Match rating: 7/10

Belfast Telegraph


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