Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe branded Josh Risdon's dramatic second-half send-off as 'soft' and believed it changed the course of Tuesday's 1-0 FFA Cup final loss to Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium.
The young defender was initially yellow-carded just before half-time for going in late on Marcelo Carrusca before being given his marching orders in the 58th minute for what appeared a small tug of Carrusca's shirt.
Lowe felt his side, after a testing but deadlocked first half, was gaining some decent post-interval momentum before Risdon's exit swung the pendulum squarely back in United's corner.
"I'm so far away, I'm going to say no," Lowe replied when asked if Risdon's second booking was justified.
"I don't know whether it was a tackle or he pulled his shirt, I couldn't see from over there.
"It looked really soft from where I was - I couldn't see anything.
"In the second half we were starting to get a feel of the ball and we were getting a bit of momentum then obviously that (red card) happened.
"We were quite organised and we made it difficult for them.
"We made them rush things, play a bit long ... they didn't get out the back and play like Brazil like they normally do."
Despite his clear disappointment, Lowe was effusive in his praise of his team which, despite being restricted to 10 men for more than half an hour, made Adelaide earn their fighting victory.
"We've come a long way," the English-born mentor said.
"We've come to a cauldron here and put a performance in.
"Our players have been magnificent. I think they were absolutely top notch.
"You could see out there we didn't feel inferior, we didn't look inferior, we weren't less fit, less committed ... I'm ever so proud of the players."
Lowe, who during his playing career represented the likes of Birmingham City and Stoke City - both of which can claim FA Cup final berths in their respective histories - believes the FFA Cup will one day enjoy a similar profile to England's legendary knockout competition.
"In Australia it will have the hype and that (FA Cup equivalent) profile, eventually," Lowe said.
"You saw tonight, it was a fantastic spectacle. I've certainly enjoyed the journey.
"It's a great concept - it's huge.
"Everybody looks at it like that as well, especially the non-league teams.
"I think it will grow even more at grass-roots level, to see what (semi-finalist) Bentleigh have done, what Adelaide City have done.
"It's going to touch the whole nation which is fantastic."comments