Paul Heckingbottom has hit back at claims by St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright that Hibs striker Florian Kamberi conned the referee to win the “game-changing” penalty that provided the platform for their third successive league victory.
Hibs were trailing to a Chris Kane goal when Kamberi went down under the challenge of Saints skipper Liam Craig with Gavin Duncan immediately pointing to the spot.
Marc McNulty took the chance to equalise before going on to make it six goals in four games as he claimed the late winner which leaves Hibs sixth in the Premiership, three points ahead of the Perth outfit.
Wright was raging afterwards, claiming Kamberi “looked as if he has been hit by a 40-foot truck”, adding: “The referee gets conned, it’s not a penalty.
“I do not blame the referee. You have to be embarrassed, I’m not sure what type of character he [Kamberi] is, but he has conned the referee.”
But new Hibs head coach Heckingbottom took exception to his player being branded a cheat, admitting he would be concerned if referees were to be influenced by Wright’s opinions of Kamberi in the future.
Suggesting that Wright should, instead, concentrate on his own player’s actions, he said: “There’s contact. It’s up to the ref to give it isn’t it? That’s another thing I’ve noticed up here – the refs get a hell of a hammering with a lot of people deflecting things.
“I could sit here and moan about decisions that didn’t go my way in that game. But everyone makes mistakes. I will have with teams I’ve picked and things I’ve done in games, just the same as refs.
“Of course it’s disappointing but it happens. It’ll worry me if refs get influenced by it which I suppose is what people’s intentions are. Regardless of what decisions they make, good or bad, whether I agree with them or not, they’re honest and they’re trying their best and that’s all they can do.
“In regard to that particular incident, there’s contact. If it’s outside the box would it be a free-kick? Yeah, it probably would so why would it be any different inside the box? I’d be asking my defender why he’s going to tackle someone on the bye-line facing away from goal. That’s the first thing I’d be asking.”