Hibs boss hits out over ‘cynical’ challenge on John McGinn

Blair Alston was booked for chopping down John McGinn
Blair Alston was booked for chopping down John McGinn
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Hibs boss Neil Lennon admitted he had no complaints at goalkeeper Ofir Marciano’s red card but insisted he was bewildered as to how St Johnstone managed to end the 1-1 draw at McDiarmid Park with 11 men.

Marciano was sent off after just 13 minutes for handling the ball outside his area with the Easter Road side already ahead through Efe Ambrose, his place going to Cammy Bell, who ensured the Capital outfit left Perth with a point as he touched Scott Tanser’s late free-kick onto the bar after Chris Kane had levelled for Saints.

Neil Lennon watches from the stand

Neil Lennon watches from the stand

But Lennon was left incensed by a number of second-half challenges by the home side, who had five players booked although he felt Blair Alston should have seen red for cynically chopping down Hibs midfielder John McGinn.

Lennon, who watched from the stand as he began a three-match ban, claimed it was as well he was sitting there as he said: “I do not understand how St Johnstone ended the game with 11 men. I totally get our red card, it was deserved, it was the right decision. But some of the challenges on my players in the second half were shocking, disgraceful. We do not get enough protection.”

However, it was Alston’s terrible challenge on McGinn which irked Lennon in particular, the Hibs boss adamant it could have caused his player a serious injury. He said: “It’s a red card all day long. He has made no attempt to play the ball other than to be reckless and endanger John’s well-being. It’s horrific and he [referee John Beaton] is right there looking at it.”

Alston had another nibble at McGinn soon after and, according to Lennon, Beaton had told Hibs captain Paul Hanlon that he “had one more”.

Lennon went on: “It was incredible, cynical, one of my players is going to get badly injured by tackles like that.”

While the draw robbed Hibs of the chance of overtaking Aberdeen in third place in the Premiership table, Lennon had nothing but praise for his short-handed side, saying: “They were amazing, absolutely amazing. We rode our luck at times and Cammy Bell was absolutely sensational.”

Hibs midfielder Dylan McGeouch missed his first game of the season only days after being named in the Scotland squad and Lennon admitted he couldn’t give any assurances that the midfielder, who “felt an adductor” in training on Thursday, would be fit for the games against Costa Rica and Hungary.

Admitting it was ironic given how the 25-year-old had been speaking of finally being injury free only a couple of days ago, he said: “We wanted to give him 24 hours but he came in and was still feeling it. I don’t know how long he will be out for, if at all.

“It will be up to Scotland, if they want to have a look at him they are welcome to do that. It’s fine by me.”