Jim Goodwin gives take on Rangers-Aberdeen Anthony Stewart and Ryan Kent flashpoints - 'my initial reaction was that he was in trouble'
Stewart was sent off three minutes into stoppage time for a crude lunge on Rangers forward Fashion Sakala with the score tied at 1-1. Referee Nick Walsh was left with little option but to dismiss the defender and with a man advantage, the Ibrox club started extra time stronger and netted what proved to be the winner on 94 minutes through Kemar Roofe. While the Dons continued to battle valiantly throughout the remaining match, Goodwin admitted the red card left his team with a mountain to climb.
"My initial reaction was that he was in trouble,” said Goodwin. “We have no arguments, I think the official has got it right. It was a poor decision from Anthony, unfortunately. He probably should have stayed on his feet and jockeyed the player. He left his team-mates in a very difficult situation, going down to ten men against a good Rangers team.
"But in fairness to the ten guys, they gave their all and stuck at it and right through extra-time, we were very much in the game. It's an extremely difficult one to take but at the same time there is a sense of pride in terms of what the players have given us and I think the reaction of our supporters showed a real appreciation of what the players put in.”
Goodwin was also asked about an incident involving Ryan Kent and Liam Scales at the end of regulation time, where the Irish defender fell to the ground after a coming together with the Rangers forward. "I don't think it's a major talking point," said Goodwin. “I saw the incident and I don't think there was a great deal in it.”
Another key talking point was the condition of the Hampden pitch as it cut up badly and was stodgy for both sets of teams, while VAR was also out of action for a few minutes due to technical issues. Goodwin was not happy with the playing conditions
"I'm not making excuses, I thought Rangers were slightly better than us, but the pitch for me and the players was a major disappointment,” continued the Dons boss. "We were actually saying in the early part of the week that it would be nice to play on a good pitch at this time of the year because there hasn't been a great deal of football here in previous weeks or months I was surprised. I know there was torrential rain on Saturday but a national stadium pitch should have a bit more resilience than that. I don't think it suited either team. The VAR thing is just a technical issue, I think that can happen at any stage in any country in the world, but the pitch is a talking point.
"We are trying to market our game and showcase it on live TV all over the world and want to be showing ourselves in a good light. I don't think a surface like that helps and it has an impact on the pace of the game. You are asking players before the game not to take risks because of the state of it. Every time the ball went back to the goalkeeper your heart was in your mouth because you are not sure which way the ball is going to bounce from one second to the next.”