Hibs boss 'would love an explanation' over penalty review in front of 'screaming' Hearts fans

Monty surprised ref sent to watch video in stand full of home supporters
Clancy reviews his decision at the mouth of the old players' tunnel in the Wheatfield Stand.Clancy reviews his decision at the mouth of the old players' tunnel in the Wheatfield Stand.
Clancy reviews his decision at the mouth of the old players' tunnel in the Wheatfield Stand.

Hibs boss Nick Montgomery says he would love to get an explanation from the SFA over the midweek penalty howler that denied his team a rare away win in the Edinburgh derby. And he says he was surprised to find referee Kevin Clancy being forced to conduct his video review while surrounded by "screaming" Hearts fans at a packed Tynecastle.

Monty is still railing against the “massive injustice” of Will Fish being penalised despite pulling out of a challenge with Kenneth Vargas, with replays suggesting that Clancy was virtually certain to overturn his decision as soon as Video Assistant Referee Alan Muir asked the ref to double-check for a clear and obvious error. After reviewing the footage at a screen tucked into a gap in the Wheatfield Stand, with home fans on all sides, Clancy shocked everyone – including the Hearts coaching staff, according to Montgomery – by sticking with the original call.

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The straight-talking Yorkshireman said: “I would love an explanation. In this case, in a game of that magnitude, when the fans are going to shout for everything, players are going to throw themselves on the floor. I think, in that incident, the VAR worked perfectly to call the referee over to have a look.

“I was a bit surprised that the screen was on the side where 8000 fans were, screaming around the referee. Me watching it on the monitor, just the body language of their dugout, I think they realised it probably wasn’t going to be given. We realised it probably wasn’t going to be given – and anyone watching it realised it probably wasn’t going to be given.

“But the referee has a decision to make after seeing it again. In my opinion, it’s never a penalty. Ever. And I don’t think many people thought it would be.

“So it’s disheartening. I did feel sorry for the players and the fans who came, because they deserved to go away with a victory. As a coach, it’s disappointing.

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“But ultimately you have to respect the referee’s decision and we have to put trust in the system, that it’s going to work. So hopefully we’ll get some decisions moving forward.

“It definitely would have been nice to get an explanation as to why it was given. But it doesn’t change anything now. I think it was a massive injustice, everybody can see that.”

Despite his displeasure with the officials, Montgomery said he’d focused on the fact that his team should still have won a game that ended in a 1-1 draw, revealing: “That’s exactly what we’ve spoken about. We shouldn’t have needed VAR or the referee to have any influence at Tynecastle – the game should have been over.

“We had four or five cleared off the line. Again, you can say that’s good defending. But you can also say we weren’t clinical enough in putting the ball in the back of the net.

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“If we had done that, a bad decision in the game wouldn’t have cost us the two points. We would have been out of sight. With the number of chances we created, 21 shots, maybe 10 on target, to come away with a point from a game, having dominated the way we did, is disappointing.

“We take the point and move on, continue to create the opportunities, just hope to be a bit more clinical, moving forward. But we have to be accountable. We have to believe that, by keeping doing the right things, the goals will come. In football you stick to the process.”

Hibs welcome Ross County to Easter Road tomorrow afternoon looking to extend their unbeaten league run to three games – and chasing three points that could prove vital in their bid to overhaul sixth-placed Dundee. With just half a dozen games to go until the Scottish Premiership split, the race to be in the top half is heating up.

Wednesday’s game in Gorgie was notable for the fact that Montgomery named the same starting XI for back-to-back games for the first time since he took over from Lee Johnson back in September. Although he’s got more options than ever, with half a dozen new signings creating real competition for places, the team is taking a more solid shape.

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“It’s always nice to name a consistent starting line-up,” he said, adding: “When the boys perform, they deserve to stay in the team.

“There was a period in the season when we were really short on bodies, and it was difficult to change the team. But, right now, to have a settled team is what you want as a manager. It’s great to have players to make the impact off the bench, too.

 “You want one big unit, but it is nice to have little partnerships forming. Jordan Obita and Myziane Maolida have a good understanding. You’ve seen Myziane’s quality and Jordan knows the quality he’s got. He’s a player that you just give him the ball and you know he will make something happen.

“Emiliano Marcondes is in there, linking stuff and his game intelligence helps bring everybody into the game. Not only that, he works really hard off the ball “It’s important you have those connections and that the team plays and fights for each other. I think you’ve seen that.

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“We’ve just got to keep building, getting on the training ground and working because, initially, we didn’t have much time on the training ground. The best way to train is on the pitch and being able to review the games. There’s been a lot of good stuff the last couple of weeks.”

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