Brown was speaking after his side had fallen 2-1 to rivals Dundee United in a hard-fought Scottish Cup quarter-final contest that he insisted had turned on an assistant referee’s failure to spot the ball crossing the touchline prior to the opening goal, scored by Brian McLean. Rather than being given a throw-in, Dundee were left to face a free-kick, after Gary Mackay-Steven, who scored his side’s winner, was clipped by Ryan Conroy. Brown said he hadn’t “ranted and raved” at referee Iain Brines after the match. “I just said it was clearly out,” he explained. “The TV people told me that. I could see it at the time. The only person who never saw it was the linesman who was five yards from it. I can’t believe it.”
The Dundee manager also revealed that Bob Valentine, the referee supervisor, had confirmed to him that the ball had crossed the line. “I’m pretty bitter about a decision that never went our way,” he said. “It was a clear throw-in which ultimately results in a free-kick that shouldn’t have happened. I don’t really need to talk about how you defend it because that shouldn’t come into play if they [the officials] do their jobs right.
“An official has cost this football club a replay and the chance to get to go a semi-final. It was an even-balanced game, especially in the first half. It was quieter in the second half. But that decision in the first half ... it basically took it out of our hands.”
Unsurprisingly, United manager Jackie McNamara did not place quite so much emphasis on a wrong call out on the touchline in the 11th minute of a fiercely contested quarter-final. “I saw them [the Dundee players] appeal, but I couldn’t see, although I was looking down the line,” he said. “There were decisions that went for both teams.”
United were dealt a blow when they were forced to rule out top scorer Johnny Russell, who had been taken off injured in the midweek clash with Inverness Caledonian Thistle. But Mackay-Steven, Russell’s equally talented team-mate, emerged as the match-winner, after Dundee’s Jim McAlister had drawn the home side level after 20 minutes.
The winger rounded off a sweeping move with a shot that whistled past Robert Douglas. Mackay-Steven is now looking forward to his first-ever trip to Hampden, where United will meet one of Hibernian, Celtic and Falkirk in the semi-final. “Obviously it will mean a bit more to me being my first time there,” he said. “It’s a great chance for us. The lads all tell me what a sweet moment it was when they won the cup [in 2010]. I am looking to get a wee taste of that.”