Hibs crowd trouble: Robbie Neilson calls on SFA to act after Hearts player struck by objects thrown from stand

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson has condemned the actions of Easter Road fans who pelted defender Alex Cochrane with chips and other objects during the first capital derby of the season.

Disappointed to see his side give up their 1-0 lead in the dying seconds of the match, after passing up chances to put the game to bed, he was also dismayed by the misconduct of the punters in the East Stand, who rained missiles down on the young Hearts player as he took a second-half throw-in.

“It’s not good enough at all,” said the Gorgie boss. “We need that stamped out of Scottish football, in any ground. I’m sure the authorities will come down heavy on it because you can’t have people coming to their work and getting hit with things like that.”

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As well as food, television pictures suggest a lighter also struck the 22-year-old.

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“To be honest I’ve never been hit by a lighter but I’m sure it is pretty sore,” Neilson added.

“I think we ask a lot of the stewards, let’s be honest. It’s a very, very difficult role to do. People speak about it all the time but these are people that are trying to cover 300, 400, 500 people. It’s almost impossible.

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“I think it’s got to come from the clubs. It’s got to come from the SFA. It’s not acceptable. I don’t want the focus to be on that, it is all about the football, but you can’t have that.”

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Alex Cochrane of Hearts is hit by objects thrown from the Hibs support during the Edinburgh derby at Easter Road. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

While Neilson’s opposite number Lee Johnson welcomed the intensity in the stand, and recognised that emotions run high in a derby clash, he said there is no merit in allowing it to bubble over.

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“It's very difficult for me to comment on individual circumstances but what I would say is that passion is there,” he said. “I can feel it and the players can feel the passion from the sideline and fans need to be able to express their opinion as much as possible but what we don’t want is them to overstep the mark.”

The club will now review footage of the various flashpoints, which included flares being thrown by both sets of supporters, with one launched into the away end by their rivals, and members of the crowd running onto the pitch after Martin Boyle scored the late equaliser.

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It is not the first time that a capital derby had been tarnished by crowd problems and missiles being thrown.

Former Leith boss Neil Lennon was struck by a coin during the fixture in 2018, while Hearts keeper Zdenek Zlamal was hit by a Hibs fan that same season. Hibs were also previously condemned for similar incidents in the same area of Easter Road against Rangers in 2019.

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“Hibernian FC is aware of alleged incidents where objects appeared to have been thrown towards Hearts players, pyros being thrown, and pitch incursions,” read a club statement, issued in the aftermath of the latest troubles.

“These incidents will be reviewed again on the stadium CCTV and if an incident can be detected and someone identified appropriate action will be taken by the club.

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“The club understands the passion that an Edinburgh Derby brings, and believes it has some of the best supporters in Scotland, but remains committed to providing a safe environment for players, officials and supporters.”

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