Exclusive: Hibs boss on Rangers gaffer's 'kicked off the pitch' claim ahead of Scottish Cup clash

Rugger rules? Cyriel Dessers collides with Hibs defender Lewis Miller in October's match at Ibrox.Rugger rules? Cyriel Dessers collides with Hibs defender Lewis Miller in October's match at Ibrox.
Rugger rules? Cyriel Dessers collides with Hibs defender Lewis Miller in October's match at Ibrox.
Monty believes Light Blues have enjoyed 'good fortune and decisions going for them' this season

Hibs boss Nick Montgomery has laughed off Rangers counterpart Philippe Clement’s complaints about his Light Blues stars being “kicked off the pitch” by opponents. And the straight-talking Yorkshireman believes the league leaders were riding a wave of good fortune and favourable decisions before Motherwell brought them crashing back to earth at the weekend.

Monty’s men welcome Rangers to Easter Road for a potentially season-defining Scottish Cup quarter-final on Sunday evening. Clement, who has to juggle domestic demands with Thursday night’s Europa League last-16 contest against Benfica in Portugal, went on the warpath against Scottish officials following Saturday’s home loss to the Steelmen, griping about an injury to Ross McCausland and claiming: “We have now already several players kicked off the pitch this season. I think they need to be protected in a better way."

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Montgomery dismissed any suggesting that Rangers are being targeted for special treatment, saying: “Look, we know it’s a physical league. It’s a real physical league. Let’s be honest. And that’s something you have to cope with.

“I don’t think it’s affected them too much. They’ve won a lot of games since he came in, and I think he’s done a really good job, so I wouldn’t say I think they’re getting worse treatment than anybody else.”

Joking about the tangle of bodies that ended with Todd Cantwell clattering into the Hibs technical area the last time the teams played, a grinning Monty added: “Philippe should remember I was actually kicked off the pitch by one his players sliding off the pitch and kicking me in the dugout! So maybe he forgets that one!”

On a serious note, asked if he thought the Belgian boss was simply trying to put pressure on referees to penalise opponents for every strong challenge on a Rangers player, Montgomery said: “The games I’ve watched when they were on that great run, they’ve had a lot of good fortune in the games, a lot of decisions go for them. But sometimes that doesn’t happen – and all credit to Motherwell for getting the win.

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“We’ve been on a good run ourselves, so it wouldn’t matter who we were playing or whether they’d won or lost at the weekend, we’d be going in full of confidence. They’ve got a midweek game against Benfica, as well. So that’s a bit of travel. But they’ve definitely got the depth of squad to cope with that.”

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