James Aish speaks with the umpire during the round four match between Fremantle and Carlton at Adelaide Oval, April 6, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

FREMANTLE coach Justin Longmuir says his players should have moved on from a controversial umpiring decision late in Saturday's loss to Carlton after an apparent dissent call against the Dockers proved crucial in a heartbreaking 10-point loss.

Longmuir said there were several key moments in the dying minutes where his team did not execute to protect its lead, but it was a free kick against the Dockers immediately after Matt Cottrell's go-ahead goal and a subsequent 50m penalty that made certain of the result.

The Fremantle coach and Carlton's Michael Voss both believed it was a dissent free kick that led to Matt Kennedy's game-sealer, with Longmuir clear on how his players should have handled the crucial moment. 

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"I think it was against 'Clarky' (Jordan Clark). I'll have to dig a little bit deeper, but we should have just got on with it, even if they weren't happy with the call before," Longmuir said.


"There's not much you can do. Our players clearly thought they had touched the footy, and they'll still say that now.

"But that's a really hard call for the umpire to make without going to a replay and we don't want to do that for every decision.

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 "The umpires are never going to backtrack, are they? So we just needed to move on and control what we can control."

It was a brutal loss for the 3-1 Dockers, having led for the majority of a low-scoring arm-wrestle and entering the final five minutes with a nine-point lead.


They failed to keep the ball in tight at the vital final stoppages that led to Cottrell's goal, however, learning a valuable lesson against a preliminary finalist that has won seven of its past 10 games by 10 points or less.

"When you're in those moments you want the ball inside the contest, and you take repeat stoppages. There were a couple of moments where we should have kept it in and got a repeat stoppage," Longmuir said.  

"There were little bits and pieces around that second last goal, the goal that put them in front, that we didn't execute.


"When it comes down to a kick, little things matter. And when you're up against good sides, you need to execute. In the end, they were just a little bit better for longer."

Longmuir said his players shouldn't lose any belief about what they are doing this season and they would be in a better position to execute how they want the next time a close finish presents.

The Dockers should regain Sean Darcy from a knee injury against Port Adelaide in round five if he gets through main training next week, but forward pair Sam Switkowski (calf) and Michael Frederick (hamstring) look likely to miss after injuries on Saturday. 


While the Dockers were left to rue their poor execution in the final moments, Carlton coach Michael Voss was proud of his players' ability to again get the job done in a tight clash.

It followed tight wins for the Blues against Brisbane (one point) in Opening Round and Richmond (five) in round one, as well as finals wins against Sydney (six) and Melbourne (two) last season.

"We've had a lot of moments in the past where we've had some really hard and harsh lessons about those moments and the boys have gone to work a lot on ourselves around that and being able to stand up when it counts," Voss said.

Patrick Cripps handpasses during the round four match between Fremantle and Carlton at Adelaide Oval, April 6, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"I thought there were some real individuals who stood up when it counted and they're taking real pride in those particular moments in games.

"They're getting the detail right, they're putting the energy in, and they're executing really well."

On Saturday's win, Voss said his team's ability to stay in touch all day despite the game being on Fremantle's terms for long periods was critical.

The margin never extended beyond the Dockers' two-goal lead early in the second quarter, with Carlton spending just 13 minutes in front and enjoying their biggest lead of the day on the final siren.


"We were a bit untidy for most of it and I just felt like Fremantle were just a little bit better around contest and cleaner when they needed to be and seemed to be having their moments throughout the game," Voss said.

"It was hard work for us for most of it, but the tide turned for us when it needed to, and the margin never got out on us, which was important.

"You don't always win how you would like to win, you've got to win when the game is in an arm-wrestle."