BEING loaned back to his boyhood club by Celtic is all part of a valuable apprenticeship for talented young Ryan Christie. Events on Saturday, however unsavoury, will offer another sharp arc in the learning curve.
Christie’s loan deal with Inverness is designed to maintain his first-team involvement at an important developmental stage, but there will be future mental demands to adapt to in the intensity of the Old Firm spotlight.
Finding himself at the centre of a supposed diving storm, then, might just stand the 20-year-old in good stead.
So it was on Saturday as first Paul Hartley, the Dundee manager, and then Dark Blues’ defender Kevin Holt effectively accused Christie of cheating to win the equalising penalty.
Holt claimed the Scotland Under-21 star cleverly orchestrated the contact and tumble that had referee Brian Colvin swiftly pointing to the spot.
With the hosts down to ten men after David Raven’s red card offence brought Rory Loy’s penalty kick opener for Dundee, Christie’s crash to earth allowed Greg Tansey to salvage a point.
After the game, home manager John Hughes raged about the Raven punishment, claiming his player had actually nicked the ball away from Dundee’s Greg Stewart in the challenge.
Opposite number Hartley, though, insisted Colvin was right with the Raven ordering off – but badly wrong in the case of the Christie incident.
Holt made it clear he felt Christie had fooled the match officials, with the 22-year-old left-back also questioning how flare players could demand “protection” from officials while flaunting the rules.
“I’ve seen [the penalty incident] back. At the time I knew I hadn’t touched him,” Holt insisted. “It was more that he kicked me and fell over – he conned the referee.
“I don’t really blame the referee. From where he’s standing, you never know what it looks like. There was definitely contact but it was more him kicking me than me sticking my leg out or anything like that.
“It’s him being a bit theatrical more than anything else. When players ask for more protection, how can you give more protection when players are throwing themselves about like that?”
There is no doubt in Holt’s mind that Dundee would have taken a morale-boosting three points had the second penalty award not been given. “We felt something like that would be the only way back into the game for them,” he said.