Monty and Warnock disagree on penalty calls - but united in VAR disdain

Hibs denied penalty - and Dons boss wants SFA summit over contentious decisions
Monty and his old mentor reunited at PIttodrie.Monty and his old mentor reunited at PIttodrie.
Monty and his old mentor reunited at PIttodrie.

Hibs boss Nick Montgomery hailed the character of his players as they battled back to earn a point at Pittodrie. But the straight-talking Yorkshireman believes another big VAR decision went against his team – denied an apparent stonewall penalty in the Granite City.

Speaking after a pulsating 2-2 draw against Aberdeen, now under the guidance of Neil Warnock, who gave Montgomery his playing debut at Sheffield United, Monty identified a clear handball offence by Nicky Devlin in the first half. On a day when the visitors lost veteran goalkeeper David Marshall to a late hamstring “tweak”, the gaffer said he was baffled that neither referee David Munro nor Video Assistant Referee David Dickinson – who reviewed the offence - decided to penalise the Dons defender.

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“We thought we should have had a penalty in the first half for handball,” he said, adding: “We’ve had a lot of those given against us, but unfortunately that one didn’t go for us.

"I don't want to get drawn into VAR - but we have a screen where we can slow it down and have a look. There were two calls for handball in the same incident and you think you might get one of them, but his arm's away from his body and it's hit his (Devlin's) arm, but I'm told it's not a penalty and it's been cleared. We just have to move on.”

Pleased to see substitute Emiliano Marcondes net an equaliser after a long VAR check overturned an initial offside decision, Montgomery said: “The boys showed great character. The boys who came in during January are all getting fitter, we had Rocky Bushiri back today, the last player back from international duty.

“Marcondes is a top-quality player, his finish was top quality, and we then had a couple of chances when we could have won the game – and they could have won the game as well. But the impact of the subs was great, and the squad is looking good, moving forward.

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“I don’t know about multi-million-pound players. But we’ve got a lot of players on loan who are top players. We went through a period where we had to rely on academy players, which is good for their development.

“You saw today, the squad, the players who came off the bench, we’re probably in a better place than we have been for probably two months leading up to last week.”

Asked how keen he’d been to get one over on long-time mentor Warnock, Montgomery admitted: "Very keen. There's a lot of passion on the sidelines - a couple of times the fourth official had to get involved and calm everyone down.

“It just seemed to be one of those games. Some good tackles - probably some old-school tackles - and two good teams that are trying to win the game.

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“It's an experience, a bit of a full circle moment, he used to be shouting at me. Now we are shouting at each other and the fourth official! There were contentious decisions today and it took a little bit of time. All in all, I thought it was a good game of football.”

Providing an update on Marshall, Monty said: "The pitch was very slippy. He's gone to catch the ball and he's gone down and slipped and felt a little tweak in his hamstring.

“Hopefully it's not too bad. We did the right thing by bringing on Jojo Wollacott on.  I thought Jojo came on and he was composed. He stepped up when we needed him. Hopefully Marsh's isn't a bad one and we'll see in the next couple of games.”

Warnock was left with his own complaints about the officials, claiming that the Dons should have had a penalty for David Marshall coming out to punch the ball away from an on-rushing Bojan Miovski. And the veteran manager says he wants talks with the SFA to establish some ground rules about VAR.

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Warnock said: “I don’t think we’ve got much going for us at the minute either and, hopefully, that will change. I look forward to talking to them next week and I hope I can have a few answers on certain decisions today.

‘Miovski clearly gets the ball first and heads it. Yes, he’s glanced the ball has David, but he’s poleaxed him. Anywhere else on the pitch, he gets a yellow card for that.

‘I don’t understand referees in the VAR. I think it has got to be somebody who has played the game. That is definitely a foul and should have been a penalty. I’d like to have a chat with somebody (at the SFA).”

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