Neil Lennon: Standard of refereeing as bad as I've seen
Neil Lennon has attacked the standard of refereeing in Scotland, describing it as the worst he can remember.
The Easter Road boss was left incensed when whistler Bobby Madden refused to award his side a first-half penalty against Morton on Saturday, adamant the handball by Cappielow defender Mark Russell was identical to the offence which had seen a spot-kick given against Hibs left back Lewis Stevenson seven days earlier at Dunfermline.
Lennon made a bee-line for Madden at the final whistle in Greenock to voice his annoyance, later accusing the official of being “pro-Morton”, a comment he admitted would probably land him in trouble although he insisted: “You have to call it as you see it.”
Already facing an SFA disciplinary hearing along with Morton manager Jim Duffy following the fracas which engulfed the end of the match between the two clubs at Easter Road on March 29, Lennon has made it clear he has no intentions of being silenced.
Highlighting the fact Hibs have had three of the five red cards shown to players this season rescinded – a figure Lennon believes might be “some sort of record” – he added: “That’s maybe because the officials are not good enough.
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“I have worked at a high level as a player and as a manager and I have not seen as bad as this. Bobby Madden is a Premiership referee, he’s pretty good, but I was disappointed with his performance.”
Madden, though, wasn’t the only one to be on the receiving end, Lennon again left frustrated as, for the second week in succession, his players failed to collect all three points despite taking the lead. Instead, they were forced to settle for two more draws which leaves the Championship title all but theirs although still tantalisingly out of reach.
Admitting he may have to look at his own player recruitment given his side’s scoring problems, Lennon told Hibs TV: “You need that second goal. It’s not as if we are not creating chances, but why do we miss them? I was never prolific [as a goalscorer] myself, but some players are paid to score goals. That’s why they are here and, if they are not doing it, they are putting themselves under massive pressure. The amount of ball we have we should be winning games by a comfortable margin. It’s been in our hands for weeks. We’ll get over the line but I’d like to get 70 points. At present, we are on 61. Maybe I’ll change the way we play, certainly for Aberdeen on the big pitch at Hampden [in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup on April 22]. That’s something I need to think about.”