Stephen Kenny bemoaned what he deemed a dubious penalty decision that proved the difference in Ireland’s 2-1 defeat to Scotland at a packed Hampden Park.
Ireland are facing a Nations League relegation battle against Armenia on Tuesday after allowing a first-half lead secured by John Egan slip through goals from Jack Hendry and Ryan Christie.
The latter, from the spot, stemmed from Alan Browne handling Scott McTominay’s goalbound header with nine minutes to go.
VAR cleared the decision of the Swiss referee but Kenny claimed Browne was pushed in the lead-up to the incident. Replays seemed to suggest if anyone shoved the Irish player, it was fellow Corkman John Egan.
“The penalty is contentious – it’s very harsh,” Kenny asserted.
“Just seeing it before I came, it appears Alan Browne was pushed by a Scottish player that has resulted in him raising his hands in an unnatural position, if you like.
“It was very congested in the box but it seems that’s the case.” A campaign that Kenny had set a “realistic” target of first place from has extracted just four points from five matches, putting top spot and second out of their grasp heading into the final encounter.
“We played brilliantly in the first half, showing composure under pressure, and we got the goal,” he said.
“Scotland’s equaliser was against the run of play, we responded well but didn’t capitalise on the chances.
“With the crowd behind them, Scotland were in the ascendency. Although their attacks were sustained, they didn’t have many clearcut chances.
“After playing for well for long periods, it was a harsh way to lose.” Josh Cullen’s yellow card rules him out of Tuesday, enforcing at least one change, but the likelihood more will be made for what’s descended into a wooden spoon challenge.