Kallum Higginbotham remained bemused as to why a decision to award Dunfermline a penalty was overturned during his side’s narrow defeat to St Mirren.
Referee Craig Charleston pointed to the spot for a foul by Adam Eckersley on Ryan Williamson after 63 minutes to hand the Pars the perfect opportunity to cancel out Cammy Smith’s opener.
However, the official changed his decision and booked Williamson for simulation after a long period of deliberation with his assistant, Gordon Crawford, amid considerable remonstrations from St Mirren players.
Higginbotham revealed that it was the linesman that overruled Charleston’s original decision, saying: “The linesman was shouting ‘penalty, penalty’ but then he changed his mind when the St Mirren players ran over screaming at him but he should have stayed strong.
“The referee is supposed to be in charge, albeit he needs help from his assistants, but he should stick to his original decision.
“The linesman said after the game that he changed his mind and that he was allowed to do that but I’ve never seen a ref point to the spot then change his mind like that before.”
Smith grabbed the only goal of the game following a glorious move by the Saints after 38 minutes.
Kyle Magennis gathered the ball in midfield before turning his man superbly and sliding a pass to Ian McShane.
The midfielder fizzed a low cross along the box to Gavin Reilly and he controlled the ball for the on-rushing Smith to fire home.
Dunfermline’s best chance came after just five minutes when full-back Williamson showed the fleet-footedness of a winger to beat two defenders in the box but he hesitated in shooting and his strike deflected behind for a corner.
The defeat leaves Dunfermline searching for their first win in seven games but Higginbotham believes their performance was night-and-day from the 5-2 drubbing by Queen of the South a week earlier.
The 28-year-old winger said: “We were much better today in terms of energy and commitment but ultimately we are still losing games and we need to turn that round quickly.
“It’s a sombre dressing room and a few of the boys have their head down. It’s not what we want because at the start of the season we were all buzzing with our heads held high.”
Chances were at a premium during an increasingly feisty encounter which saw the visitors pick up five bookings.
Gavin Reilly’s header forced Sean Murdoch into a comfortable save minutes after the goalkeeper was fortunate to avoid red for bringing down the striker on the edge of the box.
Dunfermline were unfortunate not to leave with a point and they dominated the second period without forcing Craig Samson into a notable save.
Joe Cardle fired an ambitious effort over the bar before Nicky Clark had two tame headers straight at the goalkeeper when he should have done better.
Saints’ view of the penalty incident contrasted with that of the away side with Eckersley revealing: “I felt like he went down looking for it so I had a few words to say to him about why he was on the floor.
“I’m delighted the ref changed the decision.”