St Johnstone manager Steven MacLean expressed his frustration with referee Graham Grainger after skipper Liam Gordon gave away a penalty and was later red-carded in his side’s 1-1 draw with Livingston.
The defender was sent off with seven minutes remaining in regulation time after a VAR check penalised a studs-up challenge on Joel Nouble.
The numerical disadvantage prevented the McDiarmid Park side from launching a late push for a first victory of the campaign.
MacLean said: “I’m frustrated with the penalty. I think Liam is naive, he thinks he can win it – but I don’t think it’s a penalty.
“I’ve watched it back and I’ve spoken to the referee, and he says he’s impeded him.
“Then he said he’d need to see it back, so take from that what you want. His reasoning doesn’t suggest it’s a penalty.
“Liam shouldn’t go near him because the ball is going out the pitch. But the ref is 35 yards away looking through Sven [Sprangler], I don’t know how he can give the penalty.”
On the red card, he added: “I saw it from a wide angle. It doesn’t look like a red but I need to see the stills because that’s what they go on these days, isn’t it?
“So I’ve not seen the VAR footage. It looked like a proper, hard tackle.”
It was a third draw in seven Premiership games for St Johnstone, but MacLean felt his side turned in an improved performance from their 2-0 defeat to Hibernian.
After making four changes to his line-up and altering formation, he added: “In the second half, we weren’t as good as first half. The goal probably changes that, we only looked like we’d concede from set-plays because they’re a big side.
“We lick our wounds and go again. It’s not what we wanted but sometimes things are out of your control.
“I thought our shape was good, we were looking comfortable. We should’ve come in at half-time two or three up.”
Meanwhile, Livingston manager David Martindale was happy to see his team spring to life in the second half to register a positive result after defeats to Celtic and Rangers in their last two outings.
He said: “In the first half, we were really lethargic and passive, and I think there was an overhang [from Wednesday’s Viaplay Cup loss to Rangers].
“But you’ve also got to give Stevie and St Johnstone credit, because I think they came after us.
“When we got the goal, we really settled down in the game and from that point we had the impetus to go and try to get more from the game.
“The boys got a wee lift in energy levels. Our tempo increased and we put to bed Wednesday night, in terms of the mental side and the fatigue.
“If you had offered me a point before the game, after this run of fixtures, I probably would have taken it.
“I’m disappointed we never took three points but I would probably say a draw is the right result.”