Craig Levein: St Johnstone penalty was ‘softer than soft’

Hearts manager Craig Levein. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
Hearts manager Craig Levein. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
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Craig Levein claimed that refereeing decisions are ‘testing his character” and that of his players and the Hearts supporters after a “softer-than- soft” penalty decision from Andrew Dallas denied the Tynecastle side victory against St Johnstone last night.

Protecting a 2-1 lead into the final quarter at McDiarmid Park, the Gorgie outfit were left stunned when Dallas pointed to the spot and accused Peter Haring of a jersey pull in an aerial challenge with Saints substitute Liam Gordon.

Just as the dust was settling on the anger Levein directed at Bobby Madden following Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Rangers, the Hearts manager, who insisted he had not said anything “untoward” after striding onto the pitch to remonstrate with Dallas at full-time, was forced to field questions about officialdom yet again.

“Have you seen it? What’s softer than soft?” he said, “I’ve only seen three angles and I can’t see anything. I’ll let you guys [the media] write what you think, because I might get myself into trouble.

“It’s certainly a test of character for the players and for myself and for the supporters.”

“But all credit to the boys, we built on our performance on Sunday,” added Levein.

“We are not back to our level and we won’t be until we get our main players back but it was another step forward. The players are annoyed and a bit frustrated, and they’ve seen the three angles as well.

“Listen, there might be another angle but Andrew [Dallas] said to [assistant] Austin [MacPhee] he saw a shirt pull. But, when I looked at it, the ball’s not anywhere near him. Even if he’s pulled the shirt off him, it does not matter.”

For Saints counterpart Tommy Wright, Kennedy’s controversial equaliser was the least his team deserved.

“I was disappointed to lose two points,” said the November manager of the month.

“We were by far the better team and they barely laid a glove on us. I was disappointed with our defending but pleased that we showed character to bounce back and dominate. Only one team deserved to win the game.”