Gutted Motherwell defender Richard Tait reckons the Steelmen could easily have been celebrating a momentous Betfred Cup triumph over Celtic on Sunday.
’Well were competing superbly against Brendan Rodgers’ all conquering side and trailed just 1-0 at Hampden Park when referee Craig Thomson awarded a soft 57th minute penalty against Cedric Kipre for his challenge on Scott Sinclair and then sent off the French defender.
Motherwell suffered from this numerical disadvantage and ended up losing 2-0.
“It killed the game for us,” said ex-Grimsby Town ace Tait who turns 28 this Saturday.
“I think we were probably still in the game at 1-0, could have gone to 1-1, but Gordon made a fantastic save off Moulty and then the penalty kills the game.
“Cedric is disappointed - I don’t think he thinks it’s a penalty either, but the referee gave it and he’s the main man in the middle, so we’ve just got to stick by his decision.
“I think if we kept everyone on the pitch and it was 1-0 late in the game... we were right in the game, right in the game.”
Although Tait and his mates were devastated to lose Sunday’s showpiece, the rampaging right back and his colleagues will get a quick chance for some sort of revenge as they take on Celtic in league matches at Fir Park tonight (Wednesday) and at Celtic Park on Saturday.
He added: “It’s a great achievement to get to the final and I’m just gutted that we couldn’t win it for all of Motherwell.
“The fans came out today and were absolutely fantastic for us, and to have won the trophy would have been the icing on the cake for them, but we’ve done well and we have to take the positives from this and build on it for the season.
“There are positives to take from today because we were well in the game for a long, long time, and I’m just delighted that we’ve got to play them again on Wednesday and get another crack at them.
“We have another two cracks at them this week and it’s a short turnaround as well, so it gives us a good chance to try to get some points in the league now.”
Tait’s team-mate Louis Moult was similarly miffed at Thomson’s penalty call and said that he felt ’Well should also have had a penalty earlier on for a challenge on him by Celtic’s Kieran Tierney.
Moult said: “I think Tierney tries to pull me back, doesn’t manage to grab my shirt and then clips my heels and I’ve got a tap-in.
“Why would I go down? I’ve got an open goal, but apparently the referee didn’t see it.
“That would have made a massive difference, that was at 1-0.
“If he sends our lad off when he gave the penalty then he should send their lad off, really. Tough decisions on a tough day... I understand the refs have a hard job, they really have, but they maybe got that little bit of extra luck today that we didn’t.”