Motherwell ace Richard Tait reckons Celtic skipper Scott Brown’s reaction influenced the referee in Sunday’s red card controversy.
Tait (28) was speaking after his defensive mate Cedric Kipre received a straight red from match official Craig Thomson for appearing to kick out and miss Brown – who then went down theatrically – after the former Scotland midfielder had appeared to strike out at the big Frenchman with an arm.
Motherwell utility man Tait, a revelation this season, said: “I think it probably was a bit of a dubious red card and obviously it was Scott Brown Cedric was tackling and he seems to have a lot of influence on the referee.
“It’s a difficult job for the ref but it happens a lot against the big teams.
“I was running the opposite way and I turned round and Cedric was getting sent off.
“Cedric’s not the kind of player to go in the way the referee suggested that he did, lunging in or stamping on somebody.
“He’s distraught, he’s not happy about it.
“He’s pretty upset but he’ll come back strong from that. It’s just one of those things.”
Motherwell lost Kipre after just 41 minutes of the Fir Park encounter against the champions, yet produced a marvellous battling display to earn a precious point in a 0-0 draw.
“I think we were the better side when we had 11 v 11,” Tait added.
“We had a few chances, better chances than they had and I think we probably could have gone on and won the game.
“It was a great team effort.
“We had a lot of defending to do and obviously with the players they’ve got that can break you open.
“We’ve done extremely well to hold on and at times even threaten their goal as well.
“We base a lot of our game on how fit we are and trying to run over other teams.
“It came into play today in a different sense where we had to defend for long periods and we managed to do that.”
After the agony of losing this season’s Betfred Cup final 2-0 to Celtic – another game where ref Thomson sent off Kipre, this time at the expense of a penalty which Celtic scored – Tait and his mates still have a chance of silverware this season.
They will play Aberdeen – who will be without suspended trio Graeme Shinnie, Shay Logan and Kenny McLean – in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals on April 14, with the winners to play Celtic or Rangers in the final on May 19.
“Obviously we’ve got a tough game against Aberdeen next in the semis and we’ve done well to get that far,” Tait said.
“I think the three guys being out gives us a lift as they’re big players for them, but it will still be difficult.
“Losing to Celtic in the Betfred final was tough.
“It would be nice to get to another cup final and that’s our aim.
“We’ve got a great opportunity to go back and potentially play Celtic again if they get through their game.
“It would be a good story if we could go there and do it.
“Whoever we play, we’ll definitely fancy our chances against them.”
Tait’s brilliant form in claret and amber this season has led to his club boss Stephen Robinson touting him for a Scotland call-up.
But national gaffer Alex McLeish didn’t include the Galashiels-born ace in his squad for the upcoming friendlies against Costa Rica (at home this Friday) and in Hungary next Tuesday
“It’s great that the manager has that confidence in me and thinks I can go to that next level,” said the former Grimsby Town ace.
“So I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing for Motherwell and you never know what can happen I guess.”