JASON Cummings has been controversially denied his first senior hat-trick after the SPFL backed referee Willie Collum and awarded Hibernian’s second goal at the weekend to Falkirk’s Luke Leahy.
Cummings looked to have earned himself the match ball after Saturday’s entertaining encounter with Falkirk and was firmly of the belief he had netted all of Hibs’ goals in the 3-3 draw.
Speaking after the game, Cummings said: “I am sure I put it in. I am sure it is my goal and I will claim the hat-trick.”
Doubts were expressed over the Easter Road outfit’s second after Cummings appeared on first view to help Liam Fontaine’s header from Scott Allan’s corner into the net.
Collum’s official match report, in which he encouraged more controversy with the delayed way in which a John Baird strike was chalked off in the first-half, marked down the 39th minute finish as an own goal for Leahy.
Leahy was Cummings’ marker on the edge of the six-yard box and footage from behind the goal on Hibs’ official YouTube channel, while on first viewing appearing to show Cummings knock the ball into the net, is less clear cut when analysed in more detail.
The SPFL indicated yesterday that they were happy to go with Collum’s view on the strike, stripping Cummings of his hat-trick and giving Leahy an unwanted goal. A spokesman said: “The referee’s report awards the goal to Luke Leahy of Falkirk and therefore it will be marked down as as an own goal.
“The only way that would change would be if the referee saw footage that changed his view.” Hibs have compiled a dossier of what they consider to be strong evidence in support of Cummings’ hat-trick and were last night considering whether to make an appeal to the SPFL and Collum.
Three goals would have put the 19-year-old, who was only playing against Falkirk after being cleared of a proposed one-match ban for an alleged gesture in the Edinburgh derby, two clear of Queen of the South’s Gavin Reilly at the top of the Championship’s scoring charts with 11 league goals.
It would also have placed the teenager above team-mate Dominique Malonga, who has scored 11 league and cup goals, as Hibs’ overall top scorer.
However, unless Hibs are successful with any appeal, Cummings will now be just one ahead of Reilly and level with Malonga, who is currently on international duty with Congo ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Meanwhile, Hibs have allowed loan striker Jake Sinclair to return to Southampton.
The 20-year-old joined the Easter Road outfit in August on a deal that was due to expire later this month. However, after sitting on the bench for Hibs’ draw with Falkirk on Saturday, the attacker, the brother of Manchester City winger Scott Sinclair, travelled back south to rejoin the English Premier League side.
Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs said: “I’d like to thank Jake and wish him all the best for the next stage in his career and I’d also like to thank Southampton for allowing us to take him here on loan.”
Sinclair made just one start for Hibs and made a further two appearances from the bench but could not replicate in the first team the form he showed for the club’s under-20s.