JOHN HUGHES and Paul Hartley saw the first pivotal refereeing decision differently but were united in collective fury at referee Brian Colvin’s supposedly unjust influence on the outcome.
aFor the Inverness manager, the first penalty and red card for David Raven amounted to a grievous mistake. Hartley, though, topped Hughes for acerbic comment post-match, claiming Colvin had been “conned” and effectively accusing Celtic-bound Ryan Christie of cheating.
Colvin and Hughes have past form, certainly. Back on December 20 last year, the home manager felt hard done by in the extreme when Ross Draper was red-carded as Brian Graham tumbled in the box for St Johnstone.
Hughes felt the same searing sense of injustice this time around as Raven took a red card for a foul in the box on Greg Stewart.
“The sending off changed the whole mechanics of the game. It was double whammy, the red card and them scoring from the penalty,” the Caley Thistle manager said.
“We would have won the game without the red card. I felt we were in total control. David Raven is one of the most honest guys. He toe-poked it, got a toe on the ball. Danny Devine is around on the cover, so how is it a red card?
“It so happens it is the same referee against St Johnstone, where he sent Ross Draper off and gave a penalty when Brian Graham dived.
“It is bitterly disappointing and I feel for the referee because I think he made a mistake.”
The hosts, ravaged by injuries, played midfielders Danny Williams and Christie up front. Still, Caley dominated the first half without ever cutting the Tayside team open.
The home crowd erupted in joy after 35 minutes, but it proved a false dawn.
Greg Tansey’s swirling free-kick from deep evaded all defenders and Josh Meekings executed the slightest of headed touches to ripple the net, only for the off-side flag to be raised.
The breakthrough came as Paul McGowan’s superbly measured ball from deep sent Greg Stewart racing away from Raven. The Inverness right back strained to make up ground and clearly barged into the back of Stewart as he controlled inside the box. Colvin had no hesitation, flashing his red card at the Liverpudlian. Rory Loy stepped up confidently and sent Fon Williams the wrong way with ease.
The lead lasted just 13 minutes, though, before 10-man Inverness won a penalty of their own. Kevin Holt’s trip on Christie as he moved away from goal on the extreme right corner of the box was clumsy and unnecessary. Tansey stepped up and fired low beneath Scott Bain’s dive into the left-hand corner of the net.
Hartley accused young Celtic-bound Christie of cheating for the equaliser. “It was a penalty for us but it never was a penalty for them. The referee has been conned,” he said.
“I’ve seen the footage back and there’s no contact whatsoever. The linesman, also, who is in a great position, doesn’t say anything.
“Kevin Holt is an honest lad and that’s the disappointing thing.
“We’d controlled the game up to that point against 10 men. We’d like to think we’d have seen it out against 10 men. They’ve been given a lifeline.”
The home fans were ecstatic to see Gary Warren, injured since the league opener, return from the bench but there was no further scoring.