Robert Green believes referee Phil Dowd could have spared West Ham United defender James Tomkins a red card in Saturday's Barclays Premier League defeat by Everton at Goodison Park.
Tomkins was sent-off by Dowd after fouling Toffees midfielder Tim Cahill inside the Hammers' penalty area, ostensibly for denying the Australian a clear goalscoring opportunity.
However, England goalkeeper Green believes he would have pounced on the ball before Cahill had the chance to apply his finish, thereby negating the need for Dowd to banish Tomkins from the field of play for the first time in his professional career.
Louis Saha equalised from the resulting penalty after Radoslav Kovac had earlier given Gianfranco Zola's team the lead with a swerving 35-yard special. West Ham battled gamely on with ten men, but further goals from Joseph Yobo and Saha ended the visitors' hopes of reaching next season's UEFA Europa League.
"We weren't playing particularly well but we were limiting their chances and Kova had scored one of those goals where it moved all over the place," said Green. "He [Cahill] came through and he's [Tomkins] made contact. It's a penalty but I don't know whether he's got a goalscoring chance because I feel I would have got their first.
"The referee has got to make a split-second decision and it's disappointing because it's changed the course of the game. Obviously they got their tails up and we conceded another goal not even five minutes into the second half and that put us up against it. It's disappointing because it was avoidable."
While Green conceded that Dowd's decision to send-off Tomkins had been the game's pivotal moment, the goalkeeper admitted that Everton had worked hard for their victory.
Hopes that the Toffees would be distracted by their FA Cup final date with Chelsea and the fact they had already secured a European place for 2009/10 were extinguished as David Moyes' team produced a typically and impressively resolute display.
While Saha was clinical, taking his tally against West Ham this season to four in two matches, West Ham passed up a host of clear-cut chances to score themselves, most notably through Diego Tristan, Luis Boa Morte and the returning Carlton Cole.
"They put their effort in just as much as we did," said Green. "The difference was that they had a little bit more quality up front to take their chances. If you look at it, at 2-1 we were having more chances than they were and didn't take them, which is the story of our season.
"We've been playing games and chances have been coming along but we've not been taking them so, in that respect, it's disappointing."
With a top-seven finish now beyond their reach, the Hammers go into Sunday's game against almost-relegated Middlesbrough eyeing a success that would take them over the 50-point barrier for the first time since 2005/06.
To do so, Green has called the club's forwards to find their shooting boots one last time before heading off for their summer holidays.
"We've got to draw on Sunday to get the same amount of points as we got last season," said the 29-year-old. "It's a good job that we got our points when we did. We went on that run and had a spell where we took our chances. Coley was on fire scoring goals but, other than that, we've really struggled to put teams away. I can't remember the last time we scored three goals in a game - Barnsley in the FA Cup in January or Portsmouth on Boxing Day in the league.
"We've nicked a lot of games 1-0 and nicked enough games like Wigan, Stoke and others where we've just clung on and defended for our lives and done a magnificent job of defending. When we've managed to nick a goal, we've hung in there more often than not and that's why we are where we are."