West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce was left to wonder what might have been after a controversial penalty saw his side beaten 2-1 by Barclays Premier League title chasers Liverpool.
The Hammers were beaten by two penalties at the Boleyn Ground on Sunday, one of them controversial and the other less so, while the hosts' own strike also sparked a huge amount of debate.
Liverpool had hit the crossbar through Luis Suarez before the same player forced James Tomkins to handle the ball inside his penalty area a minute before half-time. Steven Gerrard converted from the spot, but within two minutes West Ham were level when Guy Demel poked home following a Mark Noble corner. However, it was Andy Carroll's challenge on Simon Mignolet before the ball dropped to Demel which had the assistant initially raising his flag before referee Anthony Taylor finally awarded the goal despite strong protests.
Into the second half and Carroll thumped a header against the crossbar before yet another moment of controversy with 21 minutes to go. Jon Flanagan got in behind the back four, but Adrian clearly made contact with the ball before the left-back went to ground, but Mr Taylor blew his whistle and pointed to the spot. Again, Gerrard beat the Spanish goalkeeper from 12 yards.
There was still time for Suarez to hit the bar for a second time as Liverpool saw out a win that lifted them back to the top of the table.
For Big Sam, the manner of the defeat left a sour taste in the mouth, and led to the boss calling for match officials to become full-time professionals and to work with the same colleagues in every match.
WATCH BIG SAM'S POST-MATCH WEST HAM TV INTERVIEW
"The talking points were the wrong talking points, if I'm honest," said the manager. "I can be disappointed if we lose because the opposition have outplayed you, but I can't today. It was one of those game when we needed to be at our best, and I thought we were.
"It's a game where we really challenged Liverpool, but across the board the controlling factors and managers of the game are the officials and I don't think they managed this game very well at all. It's left me feeling a deep regret and sadness because we don't want games decided by decisions that were incorrect.
"I know it looked like Andy has fouled the keeper, but bizarrely the referee gave the goal and the assistant flagged up from 35 yards away and you never see that, so why is that? Then, with five minutes to go, the assistant was five yards away from Matt Jarvis being fouled and he didn't give but the referee did.
"Communication between the officials is something we have talked about at League Managers' Association level, saying that they need to be a threesome and be together all season so the communication and understanding gets better. It's clear it's a big problem for us, because it doesn't happen, and they are still part-time and do their job and go home.
"At this level, it's all right having goal-line technology which has made some fantastic decisions, but some of the decisions made by the officials are not."
When asked what he made of the controversial decisions, Big Sam said both West Ham's goal and Liverpool's second penalty could easily not have been awarded.
"I think the referee found it very difficult and the two decisions you could say were really controversial were our goal and the second penalty. For our goal, Andy might have got a hand on Mignolet and might have put him off.
"I've not problem with the first penalty, which is a penalty, but the second one Adrian plays the ball and Flanagan takes a dive over his hand to try to get the penalty and he succeeded.
"We still might not have got anything out of the game because they might have scored in open play, and that's fine by me. I'd sooner lose a game that way. In the end, with all Liverpool's talent they had to rely on two penalties to beat us."
While the decisions will dominate the headlines on Monday morning, the manager also pointed to Carroll's 61st-minute header, which cannoned back off the crossbar instead of flying into the roof of the net to put West Ham in front, as a big turning point in a see-saw match.
"If you look back now, Andy's header hitting the bar was a key moment because I would be stood here with a result if it had gone in. It might not have been a win, but I certainly don't think we would have lost from that point because we were defending so well. If we'd scored a second, Liverpool would have taken more chances and we'd have had more space to exploit them and had something to hang onto if we got 2-1 up.
"That was a bit unlucky because it was a super header and instead of going in, it hit the bar and came out. All in all, everybody tried their very best and gave all they had got, but for one reason or another it was a disappointing end to a game we were all looking forward to and played well in."
To watch Big Sam's post-match West Ham TV interview in full, click here.