Mark Warburton gave a scathing assessment of referee Willie Collum’s performance as Rangers allowed Hibernian to draw level with them at the top of the Ladbrokes Championship after a controversial defeat to Falkirk.
Collum, who has been named as one of the referees for Euro 2016, twice incorrectly awarded penalties, one to each side, during a breathless 2-1 win for Peter Houston’s men.
The Bairns made the most of theirs – awarded inside the first two minutes, despite Danny Wilson fouling Will Vaulks outside the area – as John Baird netted.
But Gers blew the chance to snatch a point at the Falkirk Stadium when Danny Rogers pushed Martyn Waghorn’s injury-time spot-kick on to a post after Blair Alston was penalised for handball.
Warburton, whose side have now dropped 10 points over the past two months, said: “I don’t want to come across as a sore loser, but there are some shocking decisions there.
“The penalty changed the game, giving our opponent something to hang on to.
“The one question from me is, why isn’t Danny Wilson sent off? If it’s a penalty and a goal scoring opportunity then why wasn’t he sent off?
“I think everyone inside the stadium saw the incident happened two or three yards outside the box.
“If you are going to make that decision less than three minutes into a game of that importance then you must get it right, be absolutely positive about what you do.
“I don’t think, very politely, it was anywhere near a penalty.
“I haven’t had the luxury of seeing our penalty again, but at the time I didn’t believe it was a penalty incident either.”
Gers responded positively enough to the early setback and levelled when Barrie McKay slammed home from a Nathan Oduwa cut-back 16 minutes in.
But they continued to look nervy and were lucky Baird inexplicably added an unnecessary touch to impressive teenager Kevin O’Hara’s goalbound shot while standing offside.
Falkirk continued to put their visitors under pressure, though, and scored again when Vaulks rifled home after Oduwa gave away a needless corner.
Waghorn had his chance to salvage a point at the end after another dubious call by Collum, but Rogers came to the rescue.
Gers are still top of the table, but only on goal difference after Dominic Malonga’s last-gasp winner for Hibs over Queen of the South.
They now face Alan Stubbs’ men in a crucial top-of-the-table duel at Ibrox a week on Monday and Warburton said: “I know the negativity will come. We’ll feed off of that.”
Falkirk climbed to within six points of the top two, but boss Houston does not reckon it is now a three-way race for the title.
He said: “I thought we shaded the game and deserved the win, but it doesn’t change my thinking on the title race.
“I hope to strengthen next month, but it might not be the same quality and standard that other teams are able to bring in.
“But if we’re being honest, at this moment in time we are still a huge long shot to win the league. It doesn’t mean we can’t try.”