ANTHONY Stokes has slammed referee Willie Collum's decision not to award Celtic an injury-time penalty against Kilmarnock that could have taken the League Cup final into extra-time.
The Celtic striker was taking a step wide of goalkeeper Cammy Bell when he was sent crashing to the ground by Michael Nelson, who made no contact with the ball.
Rather than point to the penalty spot Collum reached for his yellow card to book Stokes as Celtic's treble-chasing dreams came to a dramatic halt.
Despite turning in a sub-standard performance, Celtic still carved out half a dozen clear-cut chances as Kilmarnock keeper Cammy Bell earned the man-of-the-match award.
"It's a stonewall penalty as far as I'm concerned," Stokes said.
"I don't know how I've got booked for diving. The boy caught me, he said himself that even he couldn't understand how it wasn't a penalty but, obviously, the ref has seen something different. I was one-on-one with the keeper and I'm not on penalties, I don't take them. I'd have fancied my chances of scoring from where I was. I've lost the head when he's come over and shown me the card."
Stokes was in on goal after Victor Wanyama chested the ball into his path. He could have taken the chance earlier but Celic boss Neil Lennon wasn't listening to any claims that Stokes waited too long on the ball.
"It's a clear penalty," said Lennon. "Nelson has made no contact. My player got booked which I thought was disgraceful. We deserved better.
"Maybe our name wasn't on the cup but decisions like that, at big moments, should be called right and, for me, Willie (Collum) has got that one completely wrong."
Substitute Dieter van Tornhout headed the only goal of the game in the 84th minute for Kilmarnock.
Celtic won't have long to lick their wounds -- an Old Firm derby with a difference is coming up on Sunday.
If Lennon's side win at Ibrox, they will put the SPL title beyond Rangers and become champions if Motherwell fail to collect a point from their visit to Kilmarnock.