Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Mark Birighitti revealed he was warned by referee Daniel Elder about encroaching off his line in what turned out to be the crucial moment of Saturday night’s F3 Derby.
Birighitti thought he had maintained his side’s 1-0 lead when he spectacularly saved Dimitri Petratos’ second-half penalty.
But the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) cut short the gloveman’s celebrations, adjudging Birighitti had moved too far off his line before Petratos struck the ball.
The Newcastle Jets attacker was ordered to retake his spot-kick, this time making no mistake to earn his side a 1-1 draw at Central Coast Stadium.
Asked about the pivotal incident by Fox Sports post-match, Birighitti said: “I haven’t seen the replay yet but at first sight, it’s disappointing.
“You make a save and then it’s a retake. I’m not sure if I was off my line by much.
“It’s disappointing but this is football and we move on.
“[The referee did warn me about moving off the line] but it’s hard. Being a keeper you always get told to take that first step forward and attack the ball. That’s what I did.”
Mariners boss Alen Stajcic added: “I remember the referees saying they weren’t going to be too pedantic about that unless it was blatant.
“They obviously thought they had to pull it up.”
The dramatic incident allowed the visitors to draw level after the Mariners had led since the fourth minute after Milan Djuric’s fantastic volley.
It was end-to-end stuff in the dying stages, with the home side almost snatching all three points when Djuric hit the post in the last minute.
After last weekend’s late 2-1 loss to Western Sydney Wanderers, it was another tough result for the Mariners to take.
“We’re the ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ team at the moment. We could have got a result, we could have got a win,” Stajcic lamented.
“We just have to learn to win those important moments.
"We still haven’t conceded a goal from open play which is good but we’ve given away some cheap moments as well. We’re getting there and there’s been some impressive performances from a lot of players.”
On the other side of the F3 Derby divide, Jets boss Ernie Merrick felt his side also could have snatched a win after dominating most stats.
“We were a bit messy in the first half but we dominated the second half so overall I was happy with the boys for their first game,” Merrick said.
“We had 12 shots to their six, 57% possession, we had 12 corners to their four and more than enough chances to win the game.”