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Laszlo refuses to blame Flood after play-off defeat

Dundee United boss Csaba Laszlo has refused to point the finger at Willo Flood despite his skipper’s incredible Tannadice meltdown.

The Irishman was sent off two minutes from the end of their 3-2 defeat to Livingston in the first leg of their Ladbrokes Premiership play-off semi-final.

Already on a booking, he collected a needless second yellow for a push on Shaun Byrne right under referee Nick Walsh’s nose.

The furious midfielder then took a swipe at a television camera as he made his way towards the tunnel.

His dismissal means he will now miss Friday’s crucial return clash at the Tony Macaroni Arena as the Tangerines look to avoid spending a third season in the Championship.

But Laszlo – who revealed defender Bilel Mohsni is a doubt for the second leg with a groin strain – said: “It’s very painful because he is a very good captain. But I am sceptical about the decision, I would have to watch it again, because in the first half the Livingston player should have had a red card.

“Willo was frustrated but he’s only human. This was a big chance for us to move up the leagues so it was painful for him. It is frustration and I have no problem with that.

“I will protect Willo. He always gives 100 per cent and he was just frustrated and that’s OK with me. That’s not a problem.”

United’s promotion mission looked to be on course when they hit back from Rafa De Vita’s second minute opener for Livi with a Thomas Mikkelsen strike and Jackson Longridge’s own-goal.

But the tide turned against them inside three crazy minutes late in the second period as first Josh Mullen netted before Scott Pittman capitalised on Stewart Murdoch’s mistake to send Livi dreaming of a return to the top flight after a 12-year absence.

Laszlo added: “We controlled the game for 80 minutes but made mistakes, two individual errors, and we had to be clever.

“Murdoch tried to step out when he didn’t have to but generally I will protect my players because they have had a very difficult season, and had a short time to prepare after our two games against Dunfermline.

“If I am honest, we had to score the third goal. We came close but it didn’t happen up front and we made mistakes at the back. We can do better at Livingston.”

Livingston manager David Hopkin told BBC Radio Scotland:“I felt we scored a great goal but we switched off, we dropped off a wee bit.

“I told the boys to squeeze it a bit more and we did that and we got the goals we deserved.

“I thought we should have had a penalty. I thought it was a stonewaller because the boy brings Scott down from the back.

“If we had gone back to the Tony Macaroni with a 2-1 defeat I would have been delighted but we have a lead.

“I thought Josh Mullin was brilliant and he brought in the legs. Scott Pittman’s was a fantastic finish as well.

“I knew we would be organised and I thought we could score some goals. To come to Tannadice and score three is brilliant.

“I am delighted and I am sure it was a great game to watch.”

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