Ross County manager Malky Mackay was “bemused” by some of Don Robertson’s refereeing as his side had a penalty rescinded and a man sent off following VAR reviews during a 2-0 home defeat by Motherwell.
Mackay also felt Robertson failed to clamp down on the “time-wasting” that led to nine minutes of stoppage time as well as failing to perform “basic” duties such as ensuring free-kicks were taken in the right place.
The turning point in Dingwall came in the 70th minute when Jack Baldwin was sent off for bringing down Kevin van Veen after Robertson had initially issued a yellow card.
The Dutchman punished the 10 men with two goals to move Motherwell six points above County in the cinch Premiership’s bottom four.
Mackay said: “Van Veen is 25-30 yards from goal and Connor Randall is at full tilt. That’s not a goalscoring opportunity. That’s someone in a wide position.
“We have had ones like that, in fact we have been at Ibrox this season and Don Robertson was the referee and decided to not give something that clearly everyone saw and in retrospect was a sending-off.
“Also VAR gives nine minutes’ injury time for a reason – because Liam Kelly was time-wasting all day. We flagged that up in the first 15 minutes and they said ‘yep, we are looking at it and VAR will add time on’. That’s not good enough because momentum in games is killed and that’s why he is doing it.
“I also felt just basic situations that are refereeing duties, I was bemused about.
“For example, he gives a foul five or six yards out in their box and the goalkeeper walks 18 yards out and kicks it up the park. Our goalkeeper goes to kick the ball up the park for a one-v-one, their guy kicks him to stop a goalscoring opportunity and no booking.
“I asked the fourth official if the seven-second rule was still a rule. At various times he has got the ball in his hands for 15-20 seconds. The guy takes the throw-in from 15 yards further up the park.
“These used to be basic things that referees pull things back for because it’s the laws of the game. I get it from their point of view, slow the game down and be streetwise, but that’s why we have got referees, to stop these things happening.”
Robertson awarded County a penalty early in the second half and booked Calum Butcher for pulling Alex Iacovitti’s shirt, but changed his mind after being alerted to an earlier infringement by video assistant Kevin Clancy.
“He said our guy pulled their guy first, which I find incredible considering some of the jostling that you see,” Mackay said. “It’s huge errors that cost us.
“I’m really gutted for the players because I thought they were excellent, 11-v-11 to a man they were terrific against a team who were on a roll. We totally dominated and created a lot of chances.”
Motherwell have now taken 10 points from four games since Stuart Kettlewell was appointed manager.
The former County boss was delighted with how his players stood up to the home side’s attacking threat, and added: “As a club, in the last 18 months, we’ve struggled against 10 men, so we addressed that today. We did well when Ross County went down to 10.
“A lot of people say it should be a turning point, but you have to make it that. We did it well.”