PETER HUTTON was left ‘baffled’ by the match official’s decision to show skipper, Cliff Byrne a red card in the second half of Derry City’s draw with Dundalk last Friday night.
The City boss claimed Dublin referee, Rob Rogers didn’t see the incident and was in no position to send his player off following an ‘off the ball’ incident involving Dundalk striker, Pat Hoban.
With the ‘Candy Stripes’ leading 2-1 at that stage thanks to two wonderful individual goals from Barry McNamee and Michael Duffy, Byrne’s dismissal proved to be the turning point in the match.
And Richie Towell then netted a fortuitous last gasp equaliser in second half stoppage time - a goal which left Hutton deflated.
“It was certainly a turning point,” said Hutton of the sending off. “But I know for a fact the referee didn’t see it, nor did the linesman flag for any offence, so how they decided to come to that decision is beyond me. I find it baffling to say the least.
“You can’t really hold out a lead like that for 20 minutes especially against a team like Dundalk.
“So it was important to pose a threat going forward. And I thought Rory Patterson led the line really well, ably assisted by young Mark Timlin, Michael Duffy and Patrick McEleney.
“Having said that, it would be unfair to single any player out because every single player was exceptional.”
Hutton, however, was devastated when Towell struck deep into added time to deny his side a confidence boosting victory on their return from the midseason break.
“It was a fortuitous goal once again,” he added. “We gave away sloppy possession but he wriggled inside and got the shot away and Gerard (Doherty) had dived and had it covered but it takes an awful deflection off Ryan McBride and loops over him.
“That’s the break you get and hopefully it just evens itself out over the course of the season.”
There were plenty of positives from the performance for Hutton as he prepares his side for Thursday’s UEFA Europa League first round qualifier against Aberystwyth Town.
And he’s asked for a repeat of that display against the Welsh club at Brandywell.
“Lots of positives,” he agreed. “But I’ve reiterated that to the players. That’s the standard they’ve now set themselves so they can’t go below that now.
“They can take a lot of positives and take their pats on the back from that but it’s important we carry on from there.
“We were gutted but you have to take a lot of positives from it because, to a man, I thought we were exceptional.
“They worked extremely hard and for all their efforts I felt they deserved the three points but it wasn’t to be.”