Hearts boss rages at ‘leg-breaker’ challenge on Jamie Walker

Hamiltons Ali Crawford is shown a yellow card for his late challenge on Hearts star Jamie Walker, right
Hamiltons Ali Crawford is shown a yellow card for his late challenge on Hearts star Jamie Walker, right
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Hearts coach Robbie Neilson was left seething last night after a reckless tackle by Hamilton’s Ali Crawford on Jamie Walker.

Neilson deemed the challenge a potential leg-breaker and accused referee Steven McLean of failing to protect Walker.

The incident occurred at the end of a 3-3 draw between Accies and Hearts at the SuperSeal Stadium.

Crawford went in high on Walker and appeared to have studs showing but referee McLean showed him a yellow card instead of a red.

Neilson entered the officials’ room after the final whistle to ask the referee’s view. Walker scored twice in the game, whilst Crawford was the outstanding player afield. The challenge seconds from the end soured what was an entertaining and competitive affair.

“I went in to ask for the referee’s opinion on the challenge,” said Neilson.

“He said he thought it was low and there was contact after the ball.

“He said he’d look at it again but I’m pretty sure when he sees it replayed, as we have, he’ll be very, very disappointed in his decision.

“There’s no place for that in football.

“I don’t mind the physicality of it and people putting tackles in but when you go way over the mark it’s not on.

“That tackle could’ve broken Walker’s leg quite easily. Walker is a key player for us. “In my opinion, the referee failed to look after the players. That’s his primary job.”

Neilson was satisfied with some parts of Hearts’ performance but dismayed by their poor defending.

His team have now lost ten goals in their last four games. Walker scored twice – one a penalty – and Callum Paterson the other, while Rakish Bingham claimed a double for Hamilton allied to Crawford’s excellent free-kick.

“It was a rollercoaster. We’re certainly entertaining,” smiled Neilson.

“Scoring three goals, I’d expect to get three points but we conceded two poor goals. We fought hard, kept going and managed to get something out of the game.

“Hamilton is a tough place. Lots of teams will drop points here, Aberdeen lost here.

“It’s a totally different environment and the surface makes it difficult.”

Hamilton manager Martin Canning admitted feeling like his team lost having been 3-1 up in the second half.

“It does feel like a defeat,” he said.

“We got ourselves in a great position to get three points. We got a two-goal lead and we should see the game out and win it.

“I thought it looked a penalty [for Hearts’ second goal] but I think Dan Seaborne slipped and, unfortunately for us, took the player out. Even at 3-2, we should have enough to see the game out. The penalty put us on the back foot. You could feel that bit of edginess.

“I think the third Hearts goal is totally avoidable as well because we make two basic mistakes. Small margins make a big difference.”

Speaking about Crawford’s influence, Canning said: “He does an important job for us and he’s a big player. He’s scored direct from a set-piece and then flicked the ball in for Rakish to score. He’s done really well.”