St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson felt poor officiating changed the course of their play-off at Inverness after his side lost a two-goal lead in the latter stages.
Saints were cruising after Shaun Rooney and Melker Hallberg netted in a dominant first-half display and Davidson was frustrated his side could not make more of good counter-attacking chances in the second half.
Reece McAlear netted from Caley Thistle’s first shot on target in the 73rd minute but Davidson felt referee Bobby Madden should have stopped the game for a head knock to Jamie McCart and then claimed Austin Samuels was offside before cutting the ball back.
McAear then tied the cinch Premiership play-off final at 2-2 with a stunning 30-yard free-kick.
On the first Caley Thistle goal, Davidson said: “I felt he was two yards offside and there was also a head knock. The rules are if there are two players down with a head knock you stop the game and then he was offside. It was a double-whammy.
“But there’s nothing we can do about it now. Their lad scored a fantastic free-kick but they’ve had two shots on target. It was just one of those games.
“We should have taken the tie away from Inverness but in football you get punished when you don’t take your chances.
“You have to take it on the chin but if we play like we did for the first 60 minutes back home we will be confident we can get the result.”
The Inverness comeback happened just after Davidson brought off Glenn Middleton and Hallberg.
Davidson said: “Melker was not well but he played anyway. Hopefully he will be OK for Monday.”
Inverness manager Billy Dodds confessed he had got his tactics wrong after matching St Johnstone’s 3-5-2 at the start, but his half-time changes eventually told, thanks to McAlear’s finishing.
Dodds said: “He is some boy. I said to him before the game that he had not scored for a while.
“Reece is a great lad. He would hold his hand up and say he gave the ball away a few times but my word, he is special when it comes to striking the ball.
“Some of his goals this season, if you put them together, are nothing short of ridiculous. He has a big future in the game and he responded well after not being at this best.”
Dodds added: “I just wanted to go to McDiarmid and be in the tie. I thought we were out the tie at half-time.
“I thought we didn’t believe and suddenly we get the goal and we believe and at the finish the belief is flowing through us.”