Hibs’ desperate battle to beat the drop suffered a double setback today as it was revealed both Leigh Griffiths and David Wotherspoon will miss the crunch clash with relegation rivals Dunfermline.
The Pars’ visit to Easter Road on May 7 is looking more and more as if it could be the decisive fixture as the clubs strive to avoid falling into the First Division, although both teams have two matches to play before that showdown.
Although Hibs enjoy a cushion of six points with only four matches remaining, their advantage was trimmed as Dunfermline staged a tremendous fightback to snatch a 4-4 draw at St Mirren while Hibs’ miserable home record saw them lose 1-0 to Kilmarnock.
The defeat was compounded by Griffiths and Wotherspoon both picking up their sixth yellow cards of the season, bookings which have sparked automatic one-match bans for each of the Scotland Under-21 stars meaning they’ll sit out the Dunfermline game.
Griffiths was judged by referee Craig Thomson to have taken a dive after just eight minutes as he went down under the challenge of Rugby Park defender Michael Nelson at the edge of the Killie penalty area while Wotherspoon was booked deep into added-on time for dissent as he queried another of the whistler’s decisions.
But it was the yellow card shown to on-loan Wolves hitman Griffiths which left Fenlon, who was seen talking to Thomson as he left the pitch on the final whistle, incensed.
Although he declined to divulge what was said, the Irishman was adamant, having seen the incident again, that Griffiths was innocent and Thomson had got it wrong again – as he did in awarding Aberdeen a decisive penalty at Pittodrie earlier in the season.
Thomson pointed to the spot when Peter Pawlett went down under Ivan Sproule’s challenge, the Dons kid later receiving a two-match ban for diving while an appeal against the red card he was shown a few minutes later for a lunge on Hibs Lewis Stevenson was upheld.
Highlighting the fact no appeal can be made on Griffiths’ behalf, Fenlon said: “You can do it the other way [retrospective suspensions for diving] but we cannot do anything.
“It was a foul on Leigh. He was clear through on goal and he is hardly going to go down. That’s the problem we had with Ivan up in Aberdeen, funny enough it’s the same referee.”
Having taken a swipe at Thomson, who has now taken charge of six Hibs matches this season, all of which have been lost without a goal being scored, Fenlon conceded he had no quibbles with the Euro 2012-bound ref’s decision to award Killie a 43rd minute penalty which was converted by Dean Shiels.
He did, though, describe himself as “disgusted” that his side hadn’t taken at least a point given the effort of his players, adding: “We just did not get a little break on the day.”