LIVINGSTON captain Jason Talbot has accepted a two-match suspension from the Scottish Football Association for a controversial challenge on Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson during Saturday’s Scottish Championship fixture at the Energy Assets Arena.
The defender will not now face Hearts when the sides meet again at Tynecastle on Saturday. The Englishman was offered the suspension after being issued with a notice of complaint by the SFA.
Talbot was booked by referee Brian Colvin for the challenge which left Nicholson requiring stitches on his damaged face but the ruling body pursued the Livingston player on a charge of serious foul play, pertaining to Disciplinary rule 200.
Talbot had the chance to go before a judicial panel but accepted his punishment and thus will miss the club’s weekend match at Hearts and the trip to Falkirk on 21 February.
In an official statement on their website, the West Lothian club said the player had “personally apologised” to Nicholson after the match and hoped Talbot’s acceptance of the two-game ban would “bring the issue to a conclusion”.
The challenge by Talbot provoked an angry reaction on the pitch amongst the Hearts players. Video footage of the tackle has subsequently been viewed over 120,000 times on YouTube.
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson expressed concern about the incident after the match. “I have told the referee exactly how I feel about it,” Neilson said. “Sam’s not in great condition. He’ll be fine in a few days but the boy has puncture marks all over his face. I didn’t think it was a great tackle, you get rough play at this level and sometimes players can go over the line.”
Livingston’s Burton O’Brien defended his team-mate, insisting Talbot was going for the ball.
“I know Jason is an aggressive player but I genuinely think he was going for the ball,” O’Brien said. “I don’t think there was any malice on his part.
“There were a few meaty tackles during the match and quite a lot of yellow cards, but these things happen in football. If you’re going to stop and freeze pictures throughout the season we’d be here all day so we move on. The referee dealt with the incident at the time and that’s all he can do.”
Meanwhile, Rangers captain Lee McCulloch has been issued with a SFA notice of complaint over an alleged stamp on another Hearts player, Dale Carrick, during Rangers’ Scottish Cup defeat by Raith Rovers on Sunday.
The 36-year-old defender has been offered a two-game suspension for the incident which took place during the fifth-round tie at Ibrox. Carrick is on loan at Raith from Hearts. McCulloch has been cited by the governing body’s compliance officer Tony McGlennan after appearing to “deliberately stand upon” the striker’s leg, which again contravenes disciplinary rule 200 which pertains to violent conduct. He has until 3pm today to respond to the charge with a hearing set for tomorrow should he wish to challenge the allegation.
If found guilty, a one-match ban would apply immediately with McCulloch serving the second game of the suspension in next season’s Scottish Cup.