Mark Reynolds reckons Dundee United were robbed of a fair crack at reaching the Premier Sports Cup semi-finals by dodgy refereeing decisions.
But he also fears his own reputation could take an unjust hammering after he was penalised for the spot kick that saw Hibs race three goals clear.
Reynolds replaced the injured Charlie Mulgrew 17 minutes into Thursday’s defeat to the Hibees and was fingered by referee Willie Collum on the stroke of half time for bringing down Paul McGinn in the box.
Replays showed the penalty award was extremely soft – and Reynolds revealed he told Collum on the pitch that he had made the wrong call.
The whistler later incorrectly ruled out a Peter Pawlett strike that would have made the score 3-2.
And after having to bide his time for a chance in Tam Courts’ United rear guard, the 34-year-old fears the referee’s decision-making could taint his big return to action.
“It’s one of those ones, you don’t know how much you can say,” said Reynolds.
“Pete’s goal is onside, it’s never a penalty. That’s the hardest thing to take.
“You can take not turning up or not taking your chances but when it’s outwith your control it’s hard to take.
“If you go after referees and say this and that you get hauled up for it.
“But with the penalty, I don’t know how he gambles or what he sees.
“I spoke to him on the pitch and he was convinced it was a penalty. I was telling him it wasn’t.
“And Pete’s goal, if it brings us back to 3-2 it changes the whole game. It’s two massive decisons.
“It’s disappointing that happens and you are left to pick up the pieces.
“I know referees are human, but it doesn’t make it any easier to take.”
Reynolds, whose appearance against Hibs was his first since United’s opening day defeat to Aberdeen, added: “I knew I had to wait for my chance and then try and do as well as I could. I felt I did that.
“But you know what football is like, there were only a few thousand at the game, it was on Premier Sports.
“People will be looking at it and see I’ve given away a penalty and they’ll be thinking he’s been out the game for four or five weeks, he’s had a stinker.
“That’s from a guy’s mistake I have no control over.
“That’s the most frustating thing. You do everything you can to get back to try and reclaim your place.
“But if you ask anybody how I played they’ll say I’ve given away a penalty to make it 3-0 and it’s cost them (in) the cup.
“But if you were actually at the game you would see that wasn’t the case.”
With Sunday likely to come to soon for Charlie Mulgrew, Reynolds is hopeful of retaining his place in defence against Celtic.
And he is confident that Tam Courts’ way of playing gives United a fighting chance.
“These are the games you do want to play in,” he said.
“When we were in the Championship that’s what we spoke about, playing Rangers at Ibrox, Celtic at Parkhead, going to Hearts and Hibs.
“It’s disappointing when a team-mate gets injured but it opens the door up for me.
“And hopefully I can come back in and play games because when you are sitting on the bench you realise how much you miss it.
“Celtic have almost gone under the radar a wee bit, which is a strange thing to say.
“It’s like there’s still a bit of negativity around them from last year.
“They’re still a good side, they’re good going forward, they’re always dangerous.
“But we have gone into every game this season with a game plan and we feel if we commit to it then we can win the game.”