Ryan Byrne/INPHO St Pat's manager Tim Clancy pictured during last night's game.

St Pat's boss hits out at officiating - 'That's a huge decision’

Tim Clancy disagreed with a number of the decisions by Romanian referee Horatiu Fesnic and his assistants.

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC boss Tim Clancy was highly critical of the officiating after his side exited the Europa Conference League at the hands of CSKA Sofia at Tallaght Stadium last night.

The coach disagreed with a number of the decisions by Romanian referee Horatiu Fesnic and his assistants.

In particular, he objected to the late penalty awarded to CSKA, from which they scored the decisive goal to make it 2-1 on aggregate, with Pat’s defender Harry Brockbank adjudged to have handballed in the area as he attempted to prevent Mauricio Garcez from getting a shot on goal.

“Listen, we’re really disappointed,” Clancy said afterwards. “They scored from a corner first half. Garcez is very good in the air so we’re disappointed with that one. 

“And then a strange decision to give a free kick in front of the dugout and then looking back at the penalty decision, it hits their player’s hand first before it goes on to Harry’s hand so on that side of things over two legs with different sets of officials, I feel we certainly weren’t getting any decisions, and that’s a huge decision to make to give a free kick in front of the dugout when we’re on the attack.

“And then to give the penalty when you look at it back, it hits Garcez’s hand first, he heads it onto his own hand and then on to Harry’s hand. So moments like that are huge, for the likes of us to go through against a hugely established club in European football in regards to CSKA, it’s a sore one.”

Clancy also lamented his side’s inability to take their chances over the 90 minutes — a failing that proved costly ultimately.

“We had a couple of really good chances, I think we’ve had probably more clear-cut chances. Adam O’Reilly had a brilliant one in the first half where he’s got slipped in and the ‘keeper’s out on the edge of the box and he makes a good save. Doyler [Eoin Doyle] had a great header that I think might have skimmed the back post and then we had that one with Serge [Atakayi] put through and the ‘keeper makes a save and Adam follows up and just mishits, so at this level of European competition, they are chances we have to take.”

Pat’s went into the game with real hopes of progression, after winning 1-0 in last week’s first leg, but found their Bulgarian opponents tougher this time around.

“Listen, you expect a different CSKA this week than they were last week. They moved the ball a lot quicker, they had a lot more interplay with the players up front. I thought after a hectic 15 or 20 minutes, we settled into the game, we started finding players going forward and then obviously the second goal is a killer, it really is and they won’t have to come out now and explain the decision why a free kick is given in front of the dugout, I have no idea why it is.

“And then again, when you look at it back, I’ve seen it on the video, it looks like it hits Garcez’s hand first before it goes on to Harry’s hand. So again, really quick to put the whistle in his mouth and give the bigger club the decision.”

And did Clancy speak to the officials afterwards?

“No, not really. It’s not worth your while. It was chaos after the game, with a load of stuff going on. So it was just a matter of getting players out of the way and getting them into the dressing room. I went in to speak to [the officials] in there but I wasn’t allowed.”

The angry scenes that greeted the final whistle, in which several players were involved in a heated dispute, led to red cards on both sides — Saints star Adam O’Reilly and CSKA defender Bradley De Nooijer were dismissed after full-time for their involvement in the fracas. The manager, however, says he was unsure of exactly what happened to cause this incident.

“I don’t know. I have no idea what happened. I’ve just seen a big melee of players running in. And that was it. I have actually no idea what happened.

“We’ll have to see what reports come in. There was a decision in the second half where Adam comes across and wins a clean tackle and he stops the play and gives a free kick. If it’s a free kick, he’s got to book Adam. And he doesn’t.

“I thought a lot of the decisions in the game, anytime we went near them, he just blows the whistle. Then our players were getting the same contact we weren’t getting decisions, so it’s frustrating. The difference between the two teams over two legs is a penalty that shouldn’t have been given and a corner.”

But despite the disappointing outcome, the 38-year-old Meath native said his side can take positives from this year’s European campaign, having beaten Mura in the last round and run the Bulgarians very close.

“Listen, we’re not naive enough to think that we’re a better team or anything like that, but we did well over the two legs and we were unlucky.

“When you look at the game in Mura, we probably wouldn’t have been the favourites either. We did very well. The players were outstanding for the four games we had in Europe this year.

“And it’s with pride that we go out. It wasn’t as if we went out with a performance that we weren’t happy with or that we were frustrated with. I thought we played excellently in all four games so it’s unfortunate we’re sitting here at the end of the fourth game in Europe and we’re frustrated more than anything else.”

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