Stuart McCall, the Motherwell manager, yesterday admitted that his defeats haunt him more than his triumphs linger. Wednesday night's cup loss against 10-man Aberdeen was another to add his bitter collection; one that hurt even more because John Sutton appeared to have scored a legitimate goal, which was then disallowed.
McCall - speaking at lunchtime - revealed he would seek clarification, concerned about exactly who had adjudged Sutton to be offside, although he stressed he was visiting the national stadium yesterday afternoon for other business.
"It's the sickest I've ever felt [after the game]," he admitted. "It makes it all the sorer when it happens in the big games. My first reaction was to look at the linesman. And he's not put his flag up. We've gone over and celebrated, there's a delay, [Referee] John [Beaton] is speaking to somebody. The linesman then puts his flag up and the decisions given.
"If he's offside, the natural reaction for a linesman is to put his flag up. So I don't know if the linesman has given the decision. Who has given the decision, has the referee given it or has the fourth official given it? That's all I'm looking for clarification for.
"It's an easy one because Mark Reynolds [the Aberdeen defender] is stood on the six-yard line. And when you see it, it's not a difficult decision; the linesman is on it and he doesn't give it. So that makes it all the more galling. I don't know if it's John that's given it or if it's even the fourth official that's given it.
"Now I'm not saying that's happened. That's what I'm getting clarified. Because I know Derek [McInnes, Aberdeen manager] and Tony [Docherty, his assistant] were screaming at the fourth official. He's miked up to the referee. The linesman is still stood with his arms down. I just want to know who made the decision."
McCall can take some small crumb of comfort in that tomorrow's opponents, Hibernian, suffered a similarly devastating cup loss to city rivals Hearts, and that their squad will be also in need of lifting by caretaker manager Jimmy Nicholl. "It's a small straw to clutch," he said. "But that was the only light at the end of the tunnel the other night. You start thinking 'who have you got next?' and it's Hibs. After I saw the first half hour, it looked like a matter of time before Hibs would score. And then when someone said Hearts had won . . . they won't be coming here full of the joys and bouncing.
"Though they'll get over it, I'm sure. A couple of wins and you're back up again. It's about winning, and I know come Sunday we'll be focused on winning."