Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson was left frustrated by what he thought were clear refereeing mistakes that “cost Hearts points” in the derby against Hibs.
The sides played out a 0-0 draw at Easter Road but Neilson was adamant that his side should have had a penalty in each half.
The manager believed a penalty should have been awarded when Hibs defender Lewis Stevenson and Hearts forwards Ellis Simms came together in the box. Neilson thought Stevenson, who was already on a yellow card, clearly barged his opponent over but referee Don Robertson didn’t agree.
“I spoke to the ref and he gave me an excuse for not giving it,” Neilson said. “He said he hadn’t seen it yet but when he does I think he will agree with the vast majority.
“It would have been a red card. In my opinion he’s made a big mistake and I’m sure he’ll agree once he’s seen it.
“In real time, I thought 100 per cent right away it was a penalty. You can see movement of the ball, movement of the players. It’s a penalty kick but for some reason he doesn’t see it.
I think I’ve said enough before about referees and I got sent off at Ibrox. It could have happened again today if I hadn’t kept my mouth shut.”
The Hearts boss’ unhappiness was compounded by a second half incident when Alex Cochrane’s shot hit Stevenson’s arm.
“There was a handball as well,” Neilson said. “To be fair to the referee, he said he saw it and in his opinion the arm was close enough to the body not to give it. His opinion but I disagree.
“At Auchinleck we got terrible decisions, we go to Celtic and get offside decisions and we come here tonight and you get those two. It’s cost us points tonight.”
Reflecting on the rest of the game, Neilson said that the match had been “scrappy” and lacking in quality but he was prepared to look at the positives and move on.
“Listen we’re 12 points clear of Hibs and that’s the most important thing for us,” he said. “We’re aiming up the way and looking to get close to Rangers and Celtic now.”
For Hibs boss Shaun Maloney, the game was his first Edinburgh derby experience and he felt that there was a strong bond between fans and players that was strengthened by his side’s hard work and attitude.
“I had a really good atmosphere in my first home game against Aberdeen but what I felt tonight was completely different,” he said. The connection between the support and the players was something I hadn’t felt.
“It was an incredible feeling. What the players gave, the support gave just as much back.”
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