Glenn Ferguson insisted he would shoulder the responsibility for Ballymena United’s 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Cliftonville on Saturday.
But the Sky Blues boss was angry with referee Tim Marshall for a decision which Ferguson felt set the wheels in motion for his side’s second half collapse.
“At 1-0, the referee makes an absolute clanger and gives us a corner which was never a corner.
“Mark Surgenor wins a header and puts the ball in the net to make it 1-1 and the referee blows the whistle for a foul that was not there.
“He has made two mistakes in that incident and I have said many times that two wrongs don’t make a right. He has made himself look a worse referee for doing that.
“Ultimately it has cost us an absolute humiliation because from that resultant free kick, the ball is played through the middle and Davy Munster gets sent off whereas if the goal had stood, we would have had the chance to regroup and get our shape back.
“We had acquitted ourselves very well in the first half and I was buoyant going out for the second half thinking we could take it to them.
“I will take on the chin the criticism that is coming to me but I think we need to air if referees have made mistakes. He is adamant that those two decisions were 100 per cent right. He says if he’s wrong, he’ll hold his hand up and get in touch with me.
“It’s too late now - it has caused a humiliation for us.
“It’s frustrating because we’ll get slaughtered for getting beat 7-0 but I stand by what I say that if it had been 11 v 11 it would have been nowhere near that.
“Don’t get me wrong - we gave away bad goals and we switched off at times but the whole series of events has come from the bad mistake by the referee.
“We were knocked back when we went to 10 men and we paid the price for it. Some of our players didn’t do what they had to do and they let runners run off them.
“Some of the goals we conceded were criminal but I honestly think the players’ heads at that stage were elsewhere.
“They probably should have been a bit more professional within themselves to deal with that but in the emotions of trying to win a football match, when something happens like that when you’re away to the champions and you’re well in the game, it’s hard to take.
“It’s a bad result for Ballymena United, for me, for the players but it has to be highlighted how much of an influence those decisions had on the game,” added Ferguson.