INVERNESS Caledonian Thistle manager John Hughes believes referee Willie Collum got it wrong twice as his side were reduced to nine men during their 5-0 Scottish Cup quarter-final drubbing by Dundee United.
Greg Tansey and Marley Watkins were both shown straight red cards by Collum for fouls committed on United midfielder Paul Paton.
But Hughes disputed Collum’s interpretation of both challenges and expressed his dismay at what merits a dismissal in the modern game.
“I don’t know the rules nowadays – what’s a red card and what’s not a red card?” said the former Hibernian and Celtic defender. “For me, they were not red cards.
“I’ve seen them again on TV. Tansey certainly led with his studs. But did he go over the ball? No. What do you do? Do you stick your toe out or not go for it? When you’re stretching, it’s the only way you can go and he’s put his studs at the back of the ball. The ref sent him off but I don’t think it was a red card.
“Watkins slid for the ball and did the same. For me, it was a great tackle. He didn’t go over the ball. He wasn’t trying to break anyone’s leg. It doesn’t take anything away from the result for Dundee United, but it maybe robbed us of a chance to score a goal and get back into the game.”
Tansey and Watkins both incur automatic suspensions which will see them miss Wednesday night’s Premiership fixture at home to Hibs.
As it stands, they will be available for the League Cup Final against Aberdeen at Celtic Park on Sunday.
“We will try to appeal the red cards,” added Hughes. “I don’t know how that would affect it in terms of them maybe missing the cup final, but it’s Inverness we are talking about here so it’s probably the worst-case scenario.”
Hughes saw his team suffer their second successive 5-0 defeat and was left to lament the standard of their defending.
“It was definitely one of those days when anything which could go wrong did go wrong,” he said. “We’ve got that in us. There have been two or three times since I’ve come to the club that these kind of days have raised their head.
“We cannot concede the kind of goals we conceded – especially the first two – and expect to win a football match.
“The second one was comic book stuff. It’s very uncharacteristic of us but I also said that last week when we lost 5-0 at Celtic. Now we get a repeat, so that disappoints me.
“Take nothing away from United. Their third one was a penalty, which probably was a penalty, and we were up against it after that. It was damage limitation.
“What concerns me is that, in the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup, we beat ourselves.
“We have to learn from that and be better for it. I’m hoping that there is a character and spirit in that dressing room, that they are a little bit embarrassed and that they have the anger and fire to say ‘I’ll go and put that right’.
“There’s nothing better than putting it right in the next game.
“The League Cup Final is still a way away right now. Our next target is Hibs on Wednesday and getting back to winning ways.
“We’ll come bouncing back from this and we have to,” added Hughes.
“We are at the business end of the season. We are in a cup final and still riding high in the league. It’s a time to roll your sleeves up and have no shrinking violets.”