Kevin Thomson has insisted he and his Hibs team-mates felt they had a “wee point to prove” against Celtic following the flak they received after their Scottish Cup final defeat by the Hoops.
Pat Fenlon’s side were given a hard time in the wake of their 3-0 defeat last May, but Thomson believes the Easter Road players answered their manager’s call to arms in the 1-1 draw at the weekend.
Celtic boss Neil Lennon hit out at what he saw as roughhouse tactics by the Capital outfit following the game but, Scotland midfielder Thomson claimed, if Lennon had been in charge of Hibs, he’d have been “quite proud” of their performance.
He said: “I played against Lenny when he was a player and he was ultra-competitive. I think if he was manager of Hibs he would have been quite proud of the lads. I think it’s one of those things, he was nursing a few injuries, dropping points and with a big game [last night’s Champions League clash with Ajax] coming up.
“It was almost a bit tongue-in-cheek and I think when he looks back at the game he won’t be over-bothered by any of the challenges.”
As for the worry that referees might take heed of Lennon’s outburst and perceive Hibs as being a rough team, Thomson said: “I would be disappointed if that was the case. We are certainly not a rough team.
“There have been occasions this season when the manager has questioned our desire, commitment and hunger as we made a sloppy start to the season, and answering the manager’s call is what the boys were doing. I think if you understand the game, Saturday was only a competitive game.
“If some of the tackles had been on Scotty [Brown] or Charlie Mulgrew they would just have got up and got on with it but the boy [Beram] Kayal rolled around a couple of times and sometimes the rolling around makes the tackles look a lot worse than they are.”
There were many who felt Thomson’s display against Celtic was arguably his best since returning to Hibs but he disagreed saying: “I felt as if we had a wee point to prove as we got such a heard time in the press after the Scottish Cup final.
“Celtic were worthy winners but we got a bit of flak as a team for not being competitive but we were playing against the best team in the country with the best players and on the day they were far superior.
“On Saturday, though, we matched them, gave the fans something to shout about, It was one I enjoyed and hopefully we can build on it.”
Meanwhile, Hibs Under-20s have drawn Rangers away in the fourth round of the SFA Youth Cup following their 5-1 victory over Ross County.