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Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes revealed he had received an apology from referee Kevin Clancy after his side were denied a late equaliser in a 1-0 defeat to Ross County at Rugby Park.

With just five minutes left, Stuart Findlay looked as if he had cancelled out Simon Murray’s opener when he headed home .

However, referee Clancy had already blown to stop the game and award a penalty to Kilmarnock – which Danny Armstrong the failed to convert.

Clancy had already awarded County a penalty in a dramatic match, but that decision was reversed after VAR Greg Aitken sent the referee to look at the pitchside monitor.

Killie boss McInnes said: “Kevin (Clancy) apologised and admitted he made a huge mistake. These guys are serious about their profession so he will not be feeling good about himself.

“An apology is something. He said he wasn’t expecting Stuart Findlay to score the goal, but it is not his job to expect things.

“We should be expecting the referee to let the phase of play continue as we are told at every meeting.

“That is why VAR is supposed to be there. If he has blown before the ball has crossed the line that is a penalty, but the laws are wrong and we should be able to reverse it.

“The first penalty was also ridiculous. The boy went down too easy and that was also the wrong decision. Thankfully VAR has reversed that call.”

McInnes added: “By his own admission the referee has made a huge mistake. Then to compound things, Danny (Armstrong) has missed the penalty when he has been brilliant from the spot for us.

“It should have been a point, but due to us not being at our best and the referee not being at his best we have nothing from the game.”

Ross County manager Malky Mackay, though, felt the officials had made the right call, but admitted he had sympathy for McInnes.

“I spoke to fourth official Craig Napier about it. He said the referee blew clearly and early after Josh Reid pulled the shirt – which he did,” Mackay said.

“It was a penalty. As soon as he saw it he gave it. That happens before (Stuart) Findlay headed the ball, so it’s a penalty right away.

“That’s what we judge it on. He’s done the correct thing. If I’m Derek I’d be feeling aggrieved – but I feel aggrieved every time a penalty is given right now, but that’s the rules and they were followed.”

Mackay was frustrated his side did not put the game to bed before the late drama, with Jordan White missing a glorious opportunity.

“I’ve got four forwards here I am really happy with. We’ve scored goals so far, but we are also not being clinical enough,” Mackay said.

“We had great chances at Celtic Park, against St Johnstone and against Rangers. We have got to take these chances – I’m not talking about half chances.

“It was a centre-forward’s dream after Jack Baldwin did so well to lay it on a plate six yards out. He needs to stick it in the net, but Jordan (White) doesn’t do it.

“At 2-0 – the place dampens. This is a tough place to come at the best of times.

“But I am really proud of my team, because it’s a real statement of intent coming to Kilmarnock and winning like that.”