several controversial refereeing decisions were blamed for Arbroath’s heavy 4-1 home defeat at the hands of Ayr United on Saturday.
The game marked the Lichties’ third consecutive home defeat and saw the visitors’ Michael Moffat take home the match ball after netting all four of the Ayr goals.
The defeat came despite the fact the Gayfield men took the lead after just two minutes thanks to Derek Holmes.
But two contentious penalties awarded to the Honest Men along with the red card for Brian Kerr, which reduced the Lichties to 10 men, were turning points in the game.
And at full-time, manager Paul Sheerin was frustrated by the decisions made by referee Andrew Dallas.
He said: “I can’t defend that kind of refereeing performance. I can’t accept that and it was there for everybody to see.
“We all have bad days but that performance was unacceptable.
“It’s so frustrating as we were so far on top and then they get the penalty.
“The second goal was terrible defending from our point of view but still it beggars belief how we went in at half-time 2-1 down.”
The boss was also forced to make several changes to the side that went down 2-1 to Alloa last Wednesday with Steven Doris injured and Stuart Malcolm dropping to the bench.
Graham Bayne was also ruled out through injury and Mark Baxter was missing due to work commitments.
This meant both Scott Robertson and Lee Sibanda earned starts, while youngsters Scott Adams and Dayle Robertson made the bench.
And no sooner had the game kicked off when the Lichties found themselves taking the lead.
A long ball from Sheerin fell to Ross Chisholm who sent in a cross from the left.
Lee Sibanda dummied the ball and it was HOLMES who was on hand to hit the target from close range.
The Lichties then dominated and could have easily extended their lead.
Sheerin had an excellent chance with a free kick but it was punched away by the ‘keeper before Euan Smith put Holmes through on goal.
And Holmes should have done better but he blasted the ball over the bar.
Liam Buchanan had the first real chance for Ayr late in the first half but his effort was punched away by Arbroath ‘keeper Scott Morrison for a corner.
And as the corner came in, the referee deemed that Alex Keddie had pushed Neil McGregor and he immediately pointed to the spot.
Moffat stepped up to take the penalty and made no mistake from the spot.
And just minutes later, Moffat put Ayr in front when they caught Arbroath on the break and his curling shot hit the back of the net just before half-time.
The Lichties then had a opportunity to equalise but Michael Travis’s header from Smith’s cross was cleared by the defence.
Half-time: Arbroath 1, Ayr United 2.
After the interval, the hosts stepped up their hunt for an equaliser and ‘keeper Smith was on hand to keep out a good effort from Brian Kerr and then followed it up by saving the rebound from Michael Travis.
But it went from bad to worse for the Lichties as Kerr was dismissed after a second yellow card and they were reduced to 10 men.
Arbroath kept on the pressure as they strived to level the game but against the run of play it was the visitors who grabbed a third goal.
Lichties’ substitute Scott Adams was deemed to have upended Buchanan in the box and once again the referee pointed to the spot.
And Moffat completed his hat-trick with a penalty kick straight down the middle.
Then just three minutes later, Moffat sealed the win 15 minutes from time when he capitalised on a defensive error by the home side and his strike hit the back of the net.
But at full-time even Ayr manager Mark Roberts admitted his side were lucky with some of the decisions made.
He said: “After being dominated in the first half, I never thought we would go on to win 4-1.
“I didn’t think the first one was a penalty and Arbroath probably should have been winning at half-time.
“But I’m delighted for Michael Moffat as the last three or four games he has been brilliant.”