Hibs boss Neil Lennon has called for greater protection for John McGinn, claiming the midfielder was “incessantly” fouled during the Capital club’s win over Motherwell.
Lennon was left aggrieved after the first Edinburgh derby of the season, believing Hearts kid Harry Cochrane should have been sent off rather than yellow carded after scything down the Scotland player. And he felt referee Bobby Madden was lax as he claimed the 23-year-old was again subjected to some heavy treatment as the Fir Park side tried to cope with him.
Lennon, pictured right, said: “I felt there was not enough protection from the referee. In particular John was fouled incessantly, breaking up the flow of the game.
“Fine, I get that, but the referee has to take control of it. How many times has he to be fouled before the yellow card comes out? I am not begging for players to be sent off, but they are taking him out.
“Last Tuesday we had 21 fouls against us, I don’t know how many it was this time but every time we looked to break John was getting fouled. I am not going to berate referees, but there was a lot going on out there he could have stamped on.
“No-one was more physical than myself, but I played within the rules of the game. If you are fouling three or four times in a game where is the yellow card? That’s when players start to get frustrated.”
Martin Boyle’s first-half goal – the forward taking advantage of defender Cedric Kipre’s failure to deal with a high ball to beat goalkeeper Trevor Carson to it before tapping home his third goal of the season – was enough to make it back-to-back wins for Hibs for the first time since the opening two games of the season. But, insisted Lennon, it was a reflection of the way his side had been playing. He said: “It’s not as if we have been playing poorly, we haven’t been getting what we deserved. Against Celtic, Aberdeen and Celtic again, we played well and those games could have gone either way.”
Hibs travel to Kilmarnock tomorrow night seeking a third successive win against a side which has drawn at Ibrox and Celtic Park in the space of a few days but Lennon hopes to have both Anthony Stokes and midfielder Danny Swanson available again.
Stokes picked up an ankle injury in the Betfred Cup defeat by Celtic and, like Swanson, who damaged a knee in training, has had to sit out the wins over Hearts and Motherwell. Lennon said: “Stokes was 50/50 for the weekend and he should make it, while Danny should also be fit.”