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Malky Mackay calls Nick Walsh ‘finest referee in the country’ after crucial VAR call

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Walsh was called over to the VAR screen by Greg Aitken after turning down a Thistle appeal as Ross Docherty went down in the area under a challenge from Nohan Kenneh, but Walsh didn’t budge, and stuck by his original decision.

Mackay had sympathy for Thistle striker Brian Graham as another VAR check later went against him for a handball, but the County manager ultimately thinks the official got the big calls correct in such a vital fixture to both clubs.

“I feel as if I need a lie down in a dark room for five minutes to catch my breath from what just happened,” Mackay told Sky Sports.

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“Are these penalties really penalties? I look at the FA Cup Final yesterday, is that a penalty? It is under the rules as is that one today, but it’s really harsh, as they all are this year.

“They have given us Nick Walsh on the final day, the finest referee in the country as far as I’m concerned, and he had the bravery to actually go to the monitor and say to Greg Aitken that it wasn’t a penalty in the first half. So, fair play for that.

“I said that if we get one, Thistle would wobble, and when we score again right away that gives us something to chase.

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“It showed our character.”

His Thistle counterpart Kris Doolan was understandably crestfallen after watching his team let a Premiership place slip from their grasp, but he is hoping the Jags support will stick by them for another promotion push next season after a memorable play-off run.

“I’m devastated as you would imagine,” Doolan said.

“I think everybody is, but when it goes to penalty kicks it is a lottery. Football is cruel, but penalty kicks is an even crueller way for it to end I would say.

“We’ve got so many good things to take out of the games and the way we’ve played, we’ve got so much support behind us, and I think the supporters have been an absolute credit to the club.

“Hopefully that continues because I hope we have given them something to be proud of.

“I said to the players that nobody goes out to miss a penalty kick or miss a chance, it’s just what happens in football, but it is a cruel way to go out and I’m just gutted for everybody.”

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