Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom slams ref for letting the Easter Road club down

Paul Heckingbottom was left furious after seeing his side become the first to take points off champions Celtic this season.

Saturday, 28th September 2019, 4:42 pm
Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom was sent to the stand having reacted furiously to Celtic's equaliser. Pic: SNS

The Easter Road head coach was adamant Celtic midfielder Olivier Ntcham should have been sent off in the first half, claiming the Frenchman had aimed three punches at Hibs Josh Vela.

And he insisted referee Kevin Clancy had let everyone connected with Hibs down after failing to take action over that first half incident. The capital club were already nursing a grievance by that stage having seen Celtic's Ryan Christie cancel out their early opener, scored when striker Christian Doidge's shot deflected off Kristopher Ajer and into his own net.

Although Clancy had initially allowed play to continue as Celtic's James Forrest lay on the turf following a Tom James challenge, he halted play on the advice of fourth official Nick Walsh, awarded Celtic the free-kick which led to the equaliser.

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Heckingbottom was sent to the stand for his furious reaction but insisted it was unclear to his players what was going on with some of them believing there would be a drop ball to restart play.

But it was Clancy's failure to produce a red card for Ntcham which left him raging. He said: "That was the biggest injustice. Everyone has been let down, all the supporters, all the players, everyone connected with the club. There’s an incident, a couple of arms thrown, he can claim he didn’t see it, fine but he’s actually stood between the two players when the third one has come in on the end of his chin.

"You tell me why he hasn’t sent him off. Everyone can see it, I’m at the back of the stand, top row and I can see it. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone is entitled to bad games, everyone has bad games but there’s something different, that’s not right, that’s what’s let everyone at the club down."

Celtic boss Neil Lennon had claimed his side should have had two penalties in the match but, countered Heckingbottom: "You know what you have seen and there’s only one man who can say why it’s not a red card and that’s the injustice I am feeling right now. Two penalties? They probably wouldn’t have been there. With ten men, it’s a different game. I don’t moan about referees but that was a big moment, I can’t understand it."