Hearts manager Robbie Neilson accused referee Bobby Madden of shirking his responsibility and undermining his team’s effort in the spikey 3-1 loss to Celtic.
Neilson suggested that Madden should have red-carded Celtic captain Scott Brown at the start of proceedings for a two-footed lunge on Juanma that he had to jump clear of.
“I thought there should have been,” said Neilson when asked if he felt action taken should have been taken against Brown for the tackle. “The referee has to make a decision but, believe me, it’s hard to make a decision at Parkhead. It’s a big environment, two minutes into the game. It’s a difficult one to make. In my opinion, it’s minimum a booking and it doesn’t happen. We knew it was going to be a feisty game but it’s always going to be like that here.”
Neilson was miffed that it did eventually happen that Madden brandished red, the official doing so for a second bookable offence by Juwon Oshaniwa for a tackle on Nir Bitton at the end of a contest when his side impressed but could not build on the lead earned through a sumptuous strike from Jamie Walker after only five minutes.
“Oshaniwa’s one at the end, he wins the ball. For me that first tackle [by Brown] is worse. Oshaniwa gets a booking for challenging for the ball in the air. That’s what’s happened this season. In my opinion we’ve had players sent off who shouldn’t have been sent off. There’s not much I can do about it now. I was disappointed at the time and disappointed to have Oshaniwa sent off, another red card [the tenth] for us.
“I’m sure the referee will look at it. We might get a phone call from him but I will surprised if we did.”
Neilson was left frustrated by a glaring miss from Juanma immediately before Gary Mackay-Steven equalised. “We’ve played well, some good possession, good opportunities and didn’t take them. I thought we were the better team in the first half. If Juanma scores the cut-back or Oshaniwa scores when he’s clean through then we would have gone in at half-time in the lead. It was difficult second half but I thought we showed good spirit, had good passages of play, got into good area. At this level the small margins are the difference. When you have a striker who scores and one who misses it swings the game.”