Derek McInnes last night put the blame for a damaging 3-1 defeat in Inverness firmly at the feet of controversial referee Willie Collum, writes Alasdair Fraser.
And the Aberdeen manager accused Inverness midfielder Ross Draper of diving for the home side’s second goal.
Enraged by several decisions throughout the 90 minutes, the title-chasing Pittodrie boss chose his words carefully but made his feelings clear.
“We got off to a brilliant start and then make a poor decision and let Inverness back into it,” McInnes said after the costly 3-1 defeat. “At 1-1, it is finely poised and there to be won, but there were some key decisions in both boxes that went against us. That’s been quite pivotal in the outcome. For their penalty award, at the time, I didn’t think there was anything in it. Having seen it, there’s no contact. I think the player has bought a penalty there, to be honest. He’s gone down under no contact and the referee has assumed there has been contact. We’re disappointed.
“Back in December, I thought their same player has bought a penalty, gone down a bit easy. It was the same tonight. You’re hoping the referee sees it. If he sees it again, I think he’d make a different decision.
“He’s gone down under no contact and tried to make out there was. It is clearly not a penalty, but I need to say Inverness played well. It’s not just about decisions, but when the game is finely-poised and there to be won then that decision has been quite pivotal.
McInnes also saw his team denied two penalty claims, adding: “I’m really wary here it comes across as sour grapes, but I think we’ve been harshly-treated in both boxes.
“Shinnie’s was a penalty when there was contact and Horner takes a swipe and knocks our player to he ground. I think Ash Taylor has been grabbed and pulled as he tried to get his eye on the ball. In both instances, it could have been a penalty for us.”
Opposite number John Hughes acknowledged the breaks fell to Inverness, but felt the hosts earned any luck they carried through the quality of their performance.
“We knew Aberdeen would come at us in the first 20 minutes as they have not beaten us this year,” Hughes said. “We had to stand up to it, so I’m disappointed with the way we lost that goal.
“But after that I think we showed the character and the spirit at this club. We got a little bit fortunate with our first goal – the mistake from their centre back and Vigurs finishes it.
“For the second goal, the penalty, if it was against me I would have felt hard done by/. Draper did get a touch and the boy clattered him but it is 50-50. We take it.
“There was a little bit of luck for the third one as well, off an Aberdeen head and then Carl Tremarco is in at the back.
“But I felt we dominated the ball. If we were going to lose another goal, it would have been self-inflicted. Tactically, we got it spot-on.
“I’m delighted for the boys. It gives us a victory where, because everyone is capable of beating each other, we’re hopefully looking upwards.
“I have great respect for Aberdeen. That’s a knock for them, but Derek’s doing a great job. They just need to get back on it.
“It is great for Scottish football somebody is pushing Celtic all the way.”