HIBERNIAN manager Pat Fenlon ruefully wondered whether he should be more outspoken after watching his side denied what most felt was a strong claim for a penalty and his player Paul Cairney shown a yellow card for diving in yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
The point takes Hibs back up to fourth in the Scottish Premier League but it was still a question of what might have been. “Maybe I need to moan a bit more,” Fenlon said.
His comment was a veiled reference to his opposite number Kenny Shiels’ outburst when accusing Paul Cairney of diving to win a penalty in the last meeting between the teams in September. Yesterday, with the scoreline again locked at 1-1, Cairney tumbled in the box under a challenge by Kilmarnock centre-half Michael Nelson.
On this occasion, however, he was yellow-carded for simulation and Hibs were denied a chance to go in front for the first time, after Eoin Doyle had earlier cancelled out Paul Heffernan’s opener for Kilmarnock.
Even Nelson believed Hibs were justified in their claim for the penalty kick. “I wouldn’t have been over the moon if he’d given it,” said the centre-half. “But there was contact. It’s one where the ref thinks it wasn’t a penalty. It’s doubly-harsh he gets booked as well.”
Fenlon was particularly irked by the impending suspension due to befall Cairney, whose booking takes him over the disciplinary points threshold. He will now be suspended for a game after the winter break.
Cairney was quick to defend himself against diving accusations. “It was a stone-waller,” he said. “I am an honest player and I don’t go down easily. I said to the boy [Nelson] after the game that it was a penalty, and he said yes. So it is disappointing.”
Fenlon was asked about the inevitable link between this incident and the one in September, when Hibs scored the winning goal from a penalty awarded after Cairney had tripped over Ryan O’Leary’s outstretched leg. Steven McLean was the referee then, while Bobby Madden was making the call yesterday.
“I don’t think the referee is aware of that stuff,” said Fenlon with reference to the long-running and often heated debate sparked by the earlier incident, after which Shiels received a first dug-out ban of the season. The Kilmarnock manager is currently serving another ban and did not attend a post-match press conference yesterday.
“If he [Madden] got it wrong, he got it wrong,” said Fenlon. “If he got it wrong, I’m sure he’ll hold his hands up, but I’m more disappointed with the yellow card because we’ll lose the player through suspension for one game. That’s disappointing.
“Maybe I need to moan a bit more and get us a few [decisions], but you just have to take it. Paul doesn’t go down easy. He gets kicked and he gets up, as we encourage all of the players to do. The suspension is more annoying than the decision.”
Jimmy Nicholl, the Kilmarnock assistant manager, acknowledged that Hibs might been harshly dealt with over the penalty claim. However, he pointed out that his players felt they should have had a penalty of their own when Momo Sissoko was tugged back in the box. “I will leave the refereeing decisions to the referee,” he said.
Fenlon saluted the efforts of Doyle, who has now scored eight times in 21 appearances this season, and also made reference to the fact it was strike partner Leigh Griffiths who set him up. “Eoin, in fairness, has chipped in and it does away with the myth that we don’t play if Leigh doesn’t score,” he said.