Newcastle Jets coach Rob Stanton has no doubts Jamie Young's bone-rattling hit on teenage sensation Archie Goodwin at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday warranted a red card.
Whether one would have changed the outcome of Newcastle's 2-0 loss to Melbourne City will never be known, but Stanton was left feeling "hard done by" when the opposition goalkeeper escaped with a yellow card.
"For me, I'm going to say it's red, because I think intent is there," Stanton said.
"He might be a little bit wide but if he doesn't touch him and he goes past him, if he scores. We don't know that because he's collected him.
"So, you can say whether he's last man or they've got the players covered but no one at that stage is covering the goal. They're not there ... I believe it's red.
"But, in saying that, I have to accept the decision. VAR intervened. The ref's come over and they've made the call, so you get on with it.
"I feel a bit hard done by but, at the same time, that's the way it is ... Does it make a difference to the game? Maybe. I'm not sure. But we won't know that now."
City had punished the Jets for two cheap turnovers to already hold a 2-0 advantage when Young sent Goodwin crashing to the ground in the 78th minute.
The City shot-stopper came flying out of his 18-yard box and clearly had no interest in the ball, which had been played into space on the right for the Jets forward, when he shoulder-charged Goodwin before grabbing his left arm.
Nothing else at that point stood in the way of the home-grown striker, who has had limited game time in his short career due to injuries but is lethal on goal.
Referee Shane Skinner issued a yellow card to the protests of Jets players, bench and fans then stood by his decision after a VAR check.
City coach Aurelio Vidmar saw it differently to Stanton.
"I think it was the right decision," Vidmar said.
"He called it early, and going away from goal. Yes, sure he had some contact, couple of defenders close by, I thought it was always going to be a yellow. He called a yellow quickly and then just checked the VAR and kept the decision."
It was a controversial and key moment in a result which left Newcastle in ninth position with just five points to show from six outings.
They are four points adrift of the top six and only two points ahead of last-placed Western United as they look to unbeaten leaders Wellington (14) away on Saturday.
City rose to seven points and seventh position with what Vidmar described as an "important" and "thoroughly deserved" win.
"It was crucial for us because without the three points tonight, it would have started to become a very difficult season," Vidmar said.
The Jets face a challenge ahead to stay in touch with the top sides and things don't get any easier with a trip across the Tasman looming against the competition pace-setters.
Stanton acknowledged Newcastle will need to be better.
"In the end, it just got down to the quality of taking your chances," Stanton said.
"In the first half, I thought we did really, really well. I thought we got ourselves in a position to score and we didn't take it.
"We lacked that effectiveness in the front third. In other words we didn't have that conviction when the moment presented and I think that was the difference.
"We made a couple of errors and got punished ... the second goal just sort of deflated some of the younger ones and that's just the lack of experience.
"But we need to keep exposing these guys to keep developing them. They have to go through this to become better.
"It's a good lesson. There were some good moments but also errors in judgement and poor decision-making and that's going to happen when you've got a young team."
The round-six match was just the second at home this season for Newcastle, who had to transfer their round-five fixture against the Mariners to the Central Coast after the Broadmeadow surface was deemed unfit to play following a Supercross event at the stadium.
"The pitch is still a bit bumpy, it's fresh," Stanton said.
"It's some poor decisions and not taking that extra touch on that pitch. When you've got experienced players, they know the pitch isn't great, they take those little extra touches."