Paddy McLaughlin believes Cliftonville’s Danske Bank Premiership defeat to Linfield at Windsor Park hinged on the “soft” red card shown to Liam Bagnall.
The Blues bagged the only goal of the game just six minutes after the midfielder’s dismissal and, despite going close to levelling through Ruaidhri Donnelly, Chris Curran and Joe Gormley, the Reds were unable to rescue a late point.
“It was the turning point,” said McLaughlin of Bagnall’s dismissal for two fouls on Jamie Mulgrew.
“The game was on a knife edge between two good footballing sides and it is decided on a poor refereeing decision.
“It seems to me that every time Bags makes a foul, he’s booked. It’s probably an easy way of dealing with him because he’s combative, he puts it about the pitch and works his socks off to get the ball back for the team.
“Sometimes he upsets players, supporters and referees and the easy way, it looks to me, is to book him for his first foul, which is ridiculous.
“If I tell Liam to stop tackling, he may as well throw his boots in the bin. It’s like telling Joe Gormley to stop scoring goals.
“Every time he makes a foul, he gets booked and it has to be highlighted. I’m prepared to highlight it because you can’t keep booking a man for making a foul. You can’t have that.
“There can be bookings, but in the last three games Liam has been booked for virtually his first tackle and those three were very harsh on him.”
McLaughlin also found his own name going into referee Keith Kennedy’s notebook, with a yellow card flashed in his direction for questioning Bagnall’s dismissal – an incident which only added to the Manager’s frustration.
“That was for asking the referee what the red card was for,” he explained.
“You can’t question these boys if they have a bad game. If I have a bad game, I have a Chairman to answer to. If the team has a bad game, they’ve me to answer to. You can’t speak to them.”