Neil Lennon has claimed refereeing blunders are making a mockery of the game – and costing Hibs vital points as they fight to chase down second place in the Premiership table – after watching his side denied a derby winning goal.
Lennon looked on in disbelief as referee Steven McLean and his assistant Sean Carr failed to see teenage striker Oli Shaw’s shot cross the line after crashing down off the underside of Hearts goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin’s crossbar. It was the second time in a fortnight the Easter Road outfit have been on the wrong end of a bad call, denied a clear-cut penalty when Rangers defender David Bates handled the ball as they battled to overturn a 2-1 deficit.
Lennon branded the decision during last night’s 0-0 draw at Tynecastle “a disgrace”, insisting: “It was a goal. It was well over the line, everyone could see it. You can tell from the way the angle the ball comes out it has not hit the bar and come straight down.
“The spin has taken it back out. It’s a big, big decision that’s gone against us. When I think of the handball against Rangers and then this. It’s costing us important points.”
Lennon revealed that McLean had said both he and Carr didn’t have a good view of the incident but added: “He got every offside in the first half but he didn’t get the most important one.”
The Easter Road boss disclosed his initial reaction was backed up by Hibs players sitting behind the away dug-out, who watched a replay on a television monitor, saying: “It was not even close. It’s a derby, you get the first goal and 70 per cent of the time you are going to win. It changes the psychology of the game, it quietens the crowd.
“I don’t know what you can do. We talk about video assistant referees but we don’t have that. This was a huge game, live on television and it makes a mockery of the game sometimes.” While bitterly disappointed not to have won, Lennon was delighted with his side’s performance as they made it nine games in a row without defeat to their Capital rivals.
He said: “We were by far the better team for long periods of the game on a very difficult pitch. My players were outstanding. It was an awful pitch, not conducive to playing good football but we have come away with a very good team performance.
“It may not have looked pretty but Celtic, the champions, the best team in the country came here and were well beaten. We’d watched that, learned from it and we got everything right. I should be sitting talking of three points, a fantastic, hard-fought derby win against a very good side. All the odds were against us going into the game. We were hearing of what was going to happen to us but my players, particularly in the first half, were outstanding.”