Hearts midfielder Ryan Stevenson was today sweating over a possible SFA rap after being accused of launching a deliberate two-footed lunge on Hibs skipper James McPake during last night’s derby.
The Easter Road outfit were left raging after the incident at Tynecastle, claiming defender McPake could have been seriously injured by the Gorgie player, who escaped even a booking from referee Willie Collum.
McPake’s team-mates Tim Clancy and Gary Deegan were seen confronting Stevenson over his challenge, which was branded “disgusting” by Hibs left-back Ryan McGivern, who claimed the Hearts player had “tried to do” his fellow Northern Ireland internationalist. Hibs manager Pat Fenlon described the tackle as “shocking”.
While Collum failed to take any action, SFA compliance officer Vincent Lunny could step in to act retrospectively as he did in issuing a “notice of complaint” against Kelvin Wilson, which resulted in the Celtic star being hit with a two-match ban for striking Dundee player John Baird with his elbow.
If Stevenson is hit with a similar punishment, should Lunny decide to act, he’d miss Hearts’ first SPL match after the winter break – away to Celtic – and also their Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final against Inverness Caley.
While Hearts manager John McGlynn felt Collum was “in a good position” to see what happened in the first-half flashpoint, both Fenlon and McGivern claimed Stevenson “had a look first” before leaving the ground with both feet as he threw himself towards McPake.
Fenlon said: “It was a shocking tackle. It was a very, very poor tackle. He has left the ground, he has had a look first before he left the ground so we are disappointed with that.”
McPake was left with a bad gash on his leg but Fenlon admitted he was thankful no more serious injury had been done. He said: “James was not badly hurt, he will get over it but it was a bonus that he was not badly hurt because there could have been a bit of damage.”
McGivern, too, was less than happy with Stevenson, claiming everyone had seen what happened except Collum. The on-loan Manchester City defender said: “I think it was a disgusting tackle. I have seen it back on the replay and Stevenson has had a little look and he is going to try and do him. He has done that and I think the referee has had a wee bit of a stinker there by letting that one go.
“It was definitely a red card tackle.”
McGivern, though, believes McPake himself had helped Stevenson by not making any great issue over the incident although he clearly showed Collum the damage to his right leg. McGivern said: “James is the type of guy who is not going to make a fuss although he said to the ref it was a two-footed lunge. He’s got quite a nasty cut on his leg.”
Although Hearts felt they had edged the match – substitute Jason Holt watching McGivern take his netbound shot off the line and striker John Sutton thumping the crossbar with a late header while Eoin Doyle missed his side’s best chance – Hibs departed having made it three derbies without defeat, a result which leaves them just one point short of their tally for the whole of last season.
McGivern revealed he’ll be back for the first game after the break, a home match against Dundee, but, like Hibs’ other loan signings, Leigh Griffiths and Jorge Claros, his future thereafter is less clear although Fenlon will sit down with chairman Rod Petrie today to discover where negotiations with the trio’s parent clubs stand.