Dundee United captain Mark Reynolds has blasted referee John Beaton after he gave three controversial penalty decisions against the Terrors in their 5-1 defeat to St Mirren.
Ian Harkes’ wonder goal pulled one back for the Tangerines but the visitors cemented the three points through substitutes Dylan Connolly and Kristian Dennis.
Beaton adjudged Reynolds to have fouled Shaughnessy in the box for the Paisley side’s first penalty, while he also viewed Lawrence Shankland’s block of a Ryan Flynn shot as handball as McGrath stepped up to tuck away a second spot-kick.
The 33-year-old also believes they had a case for a penalty of their own as Luke Bolton went down under the challenge of Richard Tait moments before the opening goal.
“For the one on me, Shaugnessy’s bouncing about lively, starts offside and comes running back onside, and runs into me but I stand my ground and he falls to the floor,” the defender said.
“Beaton gives it but it’s very soft, for me. It’s not as if I’ve ran through him or threw him on the ground.
“I stood my ground and he falls to the floor. The referee’s, obviously, deemed there’s enough contact there.
“The one with Shanks, I don’t know if it’s even hit him in the arm because he turns his hand in and Shanks says it hit him in the side.
“It’s two massive calls and Bolton said he got caught by Tait before he takes the ball and John Beaton says: ‘No it’s a great tackle’.
“They’re huge decisions but, at the end of the day, we’re not going to blame that for the loss.
“We should’ve been better in defending our box, something we have done recently. It’s disappointing.”
A chance to make amends against Hibs this weekend
Despite things not going their way, centre-back Reynolds admits United weren’t good enough and will need to pick up the pieces before Hibs come to Tannadice on Saturday in another crucial Premiership clash.
He continued: “It’s disappointing. We just weren’t at the levels we need to be at.
“I think we gave ourselves an absolute mountain to climb conceding three goals.
“Two penalties but the first three goals all come from set-pieces.
“We started the second half lively, getting the goal, but we just couldn’t kick on and, as you’re going to do when you’re chasing a game like that, you leave yourself open and they punished us with another two goals.
“5-1 is never been acceptable and we’ll need to be better for Hibs on Saturday.
“The only benefit of playing the midweek game is we have the next one a lot quicker and have a chance to put it to bed.
“Every game’s huge, the league’s so tight with St Mirren behind us so we need to be picking up points and looking up the league by grinding out results.
“We’ve got a chance to do that on Saturday against Hibs.”
United still confident despite dent to top-six hopes
The result in midweek meant St Mirren moved just two points behind United in sixth and, with the Buddies having three games in hand, it appears the battle for a top-six spot is very much on.
Skipper Reynolds insists confidence hasn’t taken a hit among Micky Mellon’s men, with the Tangerines winning only one of their last 10 games, and is backing them to react in the right way.
He added: “The league’s always been tight like that but we’ve done well so far to keep our noses in front by picking up points.
“Last night was a huge result for us and we didn’t want it but sometimes that happens.
“We just need to react right to it and dust ourselves down.
“There’s no excuse for conceding five goals. We’ve been more resolute than that and hard to break down, it’s something we’ve prided ourselves on all season.
“It was disappointing because I thought there was some nice play going forward. We need to be more clinical and put those chances away as well as shutting the door at the back.
“We didn’t do either of them last night and I think that’s what happens when you don’t put those two things together.
“I don’t think the confidence has taken a dunt, we still feel as though we are competing well and coming into last night we didn’t feel as if we were far away from putting in a good performance.
“We were solid and had chances to win against Hamilton the other week, we look alright and were popping the ball about.
“Last night, we started the game well and were well in it. The three goals from set-pieces completely changes the game.
“I don’t think the goalie’s had a save to make and he’s picking it out his net three times so it’s disappointing but that’s football.
“A lot of the games in the Premiership are decided by set-pieces and dead balls. We need to defend those better.”