PAUL CAIRNEY today hit back at Kilmarnock claims that he dived to earn Hibs what proved to be a match-winning penalty, insisting: “I’m no cheat.”
The Easter Road midfield star hit the deck on the stroke of half-time after appearing to be caught by Killie defender Ryan O’Leary who, along with team-mates and boss Kenny Shiels, reacted with fury when referee Steven McLean pointed to the spot, allowing Leigh Griffiths to restore Hibs’ lead and extend their unbeaten SPL run to five matches.
Shiels and Killie goalkeeper Kyle Letheren, who was booked for his reaction to the award, both later claimed Cairney should be punished retrospectively if it was proved he had conned the ref.
Letheren said: “Their guy has gone down for the penalty and he’s dived. I was absolutely furious. There’s no place for it in the game. The boy knows he’s dived as well. I know it, he knows it, everyone knows it. I confronted him, I gave him a push. But he knew, he looked back and gave me a little wink.
“He’s conned the referee, who is only human. I don’t see why Cairney shouldn’t be punished retrospectively. If there’s evidence to prove that he’s dived, why not?”
Shiels added: “There was no contact. Even with my poor eyesight from 50 yards away I could see that. I don’t even have to see replays. We know.”
Cairney, however, insisted Shiels and his players would have a change of heart if they were to review the incident again.
On hearing Shiels had called for him to be punished, 24-year-old Cairney replied: “I would disagree with him, I’m not like that.
“It was a stonewall penalty. The boy caught me, he knows himself. I have seen the DVD of the incident again and it is a stonewall penalty.”
Cairney found support from manager Pat Fenlon who conceded his initial reaction was that the decision had been “a little bit harsh”, but one which he felt was totally vindicated having watched the incident again afterwards.
Fenlon said: “It’s difficult to see from so far away and being at ground level but the referee is in a good position and after watching it again it’s definitely a penalty.”
Meanwhile, Hibs today confirmed Tom Taiwo’s registration has gone through. The former Leeds United, Chelsea and Carlisle midfielder had agreed to join the Easter Road outfit on a two-year contract but because the deal was completed outwith the transfer window it was subject to the approval of both the SFA and SPL and the English FA releasing an international transfer certificate.
But the paperwork has now been completed, paving the way for the 22-year-old to make his debut in Saturday’s match against Inverness Caley.