It may appear to be a bit self-defeating, but Adam Bogdan has called on referees to enforce the rule requiring goalkeepers to stay on their line following Hibs’ penalty shoot-out exit from the Betfred Cup.
The Hungarian internationalist was seen remonstrating with referee Steven McLean following Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis saving from Stevie Mallan after Dons skipper Graeme Shinnie had converted his side’s first spot-kick, the Pittodrie outfit going on to win 6-5 in sudden death after 120 minutes of football had failed to separate the teams.
Bogdan clearly felt Lewis, Aberdeen’s man of the match as Hibs squandered a number of chances to win the quarter-final, had gained an unfair advantage by, as he saw it, bending the rules although he conceded his counterpart had pulled off a good stop, diving to his right to push Mallan’s shot away.
He said: “Yes, I had a word with the ref because the refs keep telling us to stay on the line. That is the rule, you have to stay on the line. But they do nothing about it. By the way, it was a good save, and I thought Joe was very good in the game. I have nothing against him. But the rule is there and the refs don’t do anything about it when someone is making a save three yards out.”
Bogdan revealed McLean had “said something” to him in light of his protestations, only to add: “But it doesn’t matter in the end. Joe’s save will go down as a good save, but the rules are there, and sometimes they just don’t follow it.”
Bogdan himself saved Niall McGinn’s effort with his legs and, with the teams thereafter trading penalties, sudden death came into play and ended when Hibs’ on-loan Manchester City winger Thomas Agyepong saw his shot crash back down off the crossbar.
The Ghana internationalist was clearly inconsolable as his team-mates tried to lift him but Bogdan echoed boss Neil Lennon’s words in claiming the game should not have reached as far as extra-time, never mind a penalty shoot-out, the statistics showing Hibs had 24 attempts on target – almost twice as many as Aberdeen – and enjoyed the vast bulk of possession and more than three times as many corners.
Hibs winger Martin Boyle also saw two “goals” chalked off – one in each half – as he was judged to have used a hand to control the ball, and the other as he was ruled offside.
Bogdan, who is on-loan from Liverpool, said: “Both teams had opportunities but I felt we had done more to win the game. It didn’t go for us up front and in the end we paid for it. We are out of the cup and it is very frustrating and hard to take.
“You can say it is an injustice but, at the same time, you have to take your chances and we didn’t.
“We could still have gone through but we didn’t and, naturally, we are very disappointed and the manager is disappointed.
“I guess the fans are too. It could have been a much better night, but it wasn’t to be.”
Bogdan would have loved to have made more than the one save from the spot, the 30-year-old saying: “Of course you need luck, but we do our research on players and sometimes you can capitalise on that and make saves. Or sometimes – as on Tuesday night – you cannot make enough saves.
“Naturally, I’m disappointed because I want to make more saves in the shoot-out to give us a better chance. But sometimes you just have to accept it if it doesn’t go your way.”
Now Hibs have to look to Saturday’s Premiership match away to struggling St Mirren as they bid to build on those back-to-back league wins over Kilmarnock and Dundee. And Bogdan has backed 21-year-old Agyepong to overcome his own personal heartbreak.
Pointing to the fact that had the effort been a couple of inches lower Agyepong would have scored, he said: “If someone misses a penalty then you will get distraught. But it could have been anybody, and he is unlucky not to score.
“It’s heart-breaking but there is a game on Saturday and we have to go on. We can maybe forget about this result by winning.
“I don’t think you can look too much into penalties. Thomas is a very talented guy, he’s very fast, he scored a great goal against Dundee.”
Bogdan was insistent that Lennon’s players must learn from the negatives of Tuesday night and take the positives from the game – and remember all their attempts on target.
He said: “Normally when you get knocked down you have to get up and fight back. The good thing about football is that there is always a next opportunity, and so now we have to get up, dust ourselves down and get ready for Saturday.
“We have to get back to winning ways. On Tuesday we kept a clean sheet, though I know that doesn’t mean anything now.
“But we have to take the positives out of it and concentrate on scoring more, and to try to keep this habit of clean sheets as well.”