Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager Richie Foran accused referee Don Robertson of lacking the courage to send Celtic defender Erik Sviatchenko off at a pivotal stage of a dramatic 2-2 draw at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.
With the contest poised at 1-1, Inverness midfielder Ross Draper went down under Sviatchenko’s challenge when clear through on goal at the edge of the penalty area. To the home side’s fury, Robertson waved play on.
Celtic went 2-1 in front just three minutes later but had to settle for a point when substitute Alex Fisher scored in the dying stages of a second half completely dominated by the Scottish champions.
“It was a clear free-kick which should lead to a clear sending off,” said Foran of the controversial incident. “You need brave referees at times like that. It’s very disappointing. Ross has pushed the ball in front of the Celtic player, has got his body in the way and has then got wiped out. It was clear to see for everyone else. I was very disappointed not to get that decision.
“In fairness to the ref, he has had a chat with us about it afterwards. He said he didn’t think Ross had control of the ball. But we have had the luxury of seeing it back on TV again and it was the wrong decision.
“It changed the whole outlook of the game. If Celtic go down to ten men, it gives us a big boost. Unfortunately for us, the only one in the stadium who didn’t think it was a free-kick was the referee.”
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers was less certain about the merits of the decision and understandably more inclined to reflect on a heroic display by Inverness ‘keeper Owain Fon Williams which prevented the visitors running riot in the second half. “I haven’t seen the incident again yet but they tell me some people have watched it eight times and still aren’t sure,” said Rodgers. “I thought the referee was good today.
“I felt we deserved the three points. The Inverness goalkeeper deserved his man of the match award. He made some great saves, a couple looked like they were certs to go in.”
It was a landmark afternoon for Celtic winger Scott Sinclair who became the first player since legendary striker Jimmy McGrory to score in each of the first five games of a league season for the club. McGrory, the most prolific goalscorer in British football history, achieved the feat back in 1934-35. “Someone just told me that after the game,” said Sinclair. “It’s a nice achievement but I’d rather be coming off the pitch having won the game.”