Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers refused to be drawn on a red-card controversy involving Craig Gordon in their 2-0 win over Alloa in the Betfred Cup quarter-final.
Television replays showed that a waist-high lunge on Greig Spence in the 42nd minute from the Scotland keeper should have earned a heavier sanction than the caution referee Alan Muir gave on a night when the Scottish champions could not break down the resistance of the League One part-timers until goals from James Forrest and Moussa Dembele in the closing six minutes.
“I haven’t seen Craig’s challenge clearly because the linesman and fourth official were blocking my view so I’ll need to look at a re-run of it,” said Rodgers, who praised the resilience of Alloa and admitted his side and been below their best but achieved their “main objective”. “I didn’t know it was a bad challenge at the time but I’ll have a look at it again.”
Alloa were in no doubt they should have played the second half against 10 men but manager Jack Ross wasn’t blaming the official’s error on the outcome of a tie from which his League One leaders emerged with huge credit. “If one of my midfielders makes a challenge as high as that in the middle of the park it’s a red card. Having seen it now, and looking at it simply as a dangerous challenge, I would think it should have been a red,” he said.
“But what I would say to temper that is that we carried good fortune in that game at times. Our goalkeeper played well, but equally, we got breaks at important times in the game as well in terms of some of the chances Celtic missed.”
Spence revealed that he had been left with an unwelcome souvenir from Gordon’s wild charge towards him, but was measured in his assessment of the foul. “He took me out quite aggressively but you don’t want to see people sent off,” said the one-time Celtic forward. “It was a bit away from the goal but it was a bad challenge. It was a big moment because if he walks then they’re down to 10 men and that gives us a big chance.
“On nights like this we need those decisions going for us but we just had to get on with it. I’m not shouting for anyone to be sent off but I’ve got a cut on my knee but if I’d made that challenge or someone in the middle of the park had made it then it would have been a straight red. It’s like a different rule for goalkeepers – they get more protection.”
Meanwhile, Rodgers confirmed that his top scorer Leigh Griffiths is likely to return for Celtic’s hosting of Kilmarnock on Saturday following a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for three weeks.