Belfast Telegraph

'I'm at an all-time low': Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton says referee 'cost' his side the game against Crusaders

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton cut a dejected figure at full-time on Saturday.
Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton cut a dejected figure at full-time on Saturday.

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton says that the referee 'cost' his side the game at Seaview on Saturday.

The Lurgan Blues lost out 3-2 to Crusaders in a game that saw three penalties awarded by Jamie Robinson, two converted and one, at the death, saved by Crues keeper Sean O'Neill.

"Jamie is a young referee learning his trade and that's what we got today," said Crues boss Stephen Baxter, who added that the spot-kicks were 'soft' as his side edged a 3-2 victory over Glenavon.

After Rhys Marshall gave the Lurgan Blues a first minute lead, Paul Heatley's sublime volley and Philip Lowry's fortuitous headed goal had turned the tide.

It was then that controversy arrived.

Robinson first pointed to the spot when Andrew Mitchell was bundled over by Howard Beverland. The referee then awarded a penalty at the opposite end when Paul Heatley went down as he tried to jink inside Aaron Harmon. David Cushley stepped up to slot home the would-be winner.

It was that decision that left Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton in less forgiving mood than his opposite number.

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"I'm actually gutted," he told the BBC, having talked up his players' performance. "I'm at an all-time low in terms of feeling after a game. I probably haven't felt like this ever after a game and I've had some heavy defeats in my time.

"You go out and you work so hard, the players work so hard. You work during the week in training and the players put in such a performance and do everything that's asked of them.

"Unfortunately we can't control what somebody else does in the middle of the park. I'm not stupid. Nobody's stupid here. I'm not one to come out and harp on about referees.

"I haven't done it in a few years now because I've learnt but today there's nothing I can say without bringing them into the equation. Certainly anybody watching that today will know that the referee has made a massive call and mistake in the penalty that led to them going 3-2 up.

"Everyone knows the referee cost us the game," he added, speaking to the press.

Hamilton said he felt his side had been denied 'the most blatant' penalty of the day for a separate incident in which Jack O'Mahony went down under close attention from Beverland.

Robinson didn't award that one but he did point to the spot a third time when, deep into injury-time, Chris Hegarty was penalised even though he appeared to get a touch on the ball as Conor McCloskey hit the ground.

"In my personal opinion the penalty was bought but that's what happens," argued Crusaders' former Dungannon Swifts ace.

"It's an important three points and we are happy with that. Maybe it was a bit of justice in the end with Sean (O'Neill - Crusaders goalkeeper) saving the penalty and I'm buzzing for him."

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