Jordon Forster today claimed former Hearts striker Christian Nade should have been sent off for taking a swing at him as the pair clashed during Hibs’ disappointing draw with Dumbarton.
Both players were booked by referee Gavin Duncan after tussling for the ball after it had gone out of play as Hibs trailed by 2-1, a Nade penalty and a strike from Robert Thomson coming either side of an own goal from Sons defender Daniel Harvie.
A late header from Martin Boyle salvaged a point for the Easter Road outfit, who are seven points clear at the top of the Championship table. They are ahead of both Falkirk and Morton and they play both at home in their next two games.
But Forster was convinced Dumbarton should have ended the game a man down for the final 13 minutes, the visitors’ manager Stevie Aitken immediately replacing Nade although he claimed it was because his striker was tiring.
Forster said: “I don’t want to say anything to get myself in trouble with the officials, but I think it was clear for everyone to see what happened. Make up your own mind. In my eyes it was not the best decision. I make mistakes, I think the ref has made a mistake.”
Asked if, as it appeared, he had been slapped in the face by Nade, the Hibs defender said: “He lifted his hands to me, there was contact.
“Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a Mike Tyson punch but he definitely made contact and by the rules of the game it’s definitely a sending off. It’s the ref’s job to make a decision. In my eyes, it was maybe the wrong one but he has seen what he has seen and made his decision. In my eyes it was a sending off and not a yellow card.”
For his part Nade claimed: “I don’t remember about the incident. It happened so fast, someone pushed me and I reacted. Maybe I shouldn’t have.”
While Forster agreed the flashpoint was a “talking point”, he regarded the final result as two points dropped by the title chasers, admitting they’d drawn too many games – six of the 13 played – at home.
He said: “Everyone is frustrated. Things can be said and blown out of all proportion, but we have dropped too many points at home, drawn too many games.
“We need to look at ourselves and sort out our home form if we want to win the league and get promoted.”
Admitting there may have been a “psychological” impact from having gone from beating Dundee United at Tannadice in front of the television cameras to struggling against part-time Dumbarton, Forster said: “It’s got to be the problem, mentally, otherwise on paper we were the better team and on the pitch by far the better team.
“We never started properly, a bit of slackness crept in. You see it, teams on a high and then a few days later they drop points or they are beaten. It’s finding the balance.”
Forster agreed that having six of their final nine league matches at home should represent a big advantage for Hibs in the final charge for the title and believes the upcoming visits from Falkirk and Morton, now their closest challengers, should see Neil Lennon’s players lift their game.
Reckoning both the Bairns and Falkirk won’t be able to adopt Dumbarton’s tactics of sitting in and trying to frustrate as they desperately need to try to close the gap on Hibs, the 23-year-old said: “We are still top of the league and the next two at home are massive for us.
“We’ll make sure we prepare for them.
“It’s almost easier in a sense to sit behind the ball as Dumbarton did – although they did it well – and this season we’ve struggled to break teams down, we haven’t scored enough goals.
“We conceded two sloppy goals against Dumbarton and on the whole we should have won the game. We had enough chances but we need to score more goals. The performance was fine, but the result is what counts.”