Hibs' Martin Boyle talks VAR and diving celebration as Aberdeen count cost of defensive errors

Australian’s return has improved Hibs – and he was glad to be on right side of technology at Pittodrie

If Hibs are to reach the Premiership’s top six and harbour ambitions of qualifying for European football, then Martin Boyle holds the master key.

Nick Montgomery’s team sorely missed their talisman in a damaging January while he was away with Australia at the Asian Cup.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In that period, their hopes of finishing third completely evaporated. But since Boyle has returned, performances have improved. His raw pace and goal threat opens up space for others. He netted the opener at Pittodrie in a 2-2 draw with Aberdeen, who are in exactly the same spot as Hibs. Defeat would have been damaging for the capital club but a point allows them to go into Saturday’s home clash with sixth-placed Dundee – five points ahead – with a bit of confidence.

Martin Boyle hit back at trolls on social media with his 'diving' celebration against Aberdeen.Martin Boyle hit back at trolls on social media with his 'diving' celebration against Aberdeen.
Martin Boyle hit back at trolls on social media with his 'diving' celebration against Aberdeen.

This was Boyle’s first strike in the league since early December, showing composure to round Kelle Roos and open the scoring.

He was forced to endure a nervous VAR check for offside after marking the strike with a diving celebration but unlike the Viaplay Cup semi-final back in November, when Boyle’s Hampden opener against the Dons was annulled by the narrowest of margins, the 30-year-old’s goal stood.

“I was a wee bit worried, yeah,” Boyle admitted as flashbacks came into his head. “Obviously, I did my celebration and then thought: ‘Oh, not again.’ But I was hoping I got it right. I didn’t want any more mistakes. So I just hoped I’d got it right and they’d made the right call this time. I’m happy to be contributing to goals again.”

VAR has hogged the headlines for the number of errors that have been made in the second round of league fixtures which were highlighted by an independent report. The technology was officially called upon four times, and while the decision on goals appeared correct, the call not to give Hibs a penalty for a Nicky Devlin handball was met by bemusement from Montgomery. Boyle admitted players are kept in the dark.

Aberdeen's Graeme Shinnie hunts down Hibs' Joe Newell.Aberdeen's Graeme Shinnie hunts down Hibs' Joe Newell.
Aberdeen's Graeme Shinnie hunts down Hibs' Joe Newell.

“I had no idea what was going on half the time,” Boyle admitted. “It’s just so stop-start, a bit chaotic. The stoppages are not ideal for anyone, especially when you have 10 minutes at the end. If they’ve made the right call, then happy days. But there’s nothing we can do. We just have to get on with it.

“I’m just looking around, to be honest. The referee just goes off, he’s pointing at his ear. We don’t really know what’s going on. I mean, I know they’re checking multiple things that happened before the incident. There’s a lot going on. And it adds up to 10 minutes of injury time, because we’ve been waiting around for five minutes at a time. Obviously the goal being awarded is great. We get the goal. If they make the right call, happy days."

And while in rugby, decisions are explained to the players, it is not the same in football. “Nah, nothing,” revealed Boyle. “We just get told to bugger off. I don’t know what they’re speaking about. It’s just mental. But, if the right calls are being made, fair play. The game could play on, things are called back, players are confused. If the right calls are being made, fair play. If mistakes are still creeping in, it’s not ideal.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Boyle’s celebration caught the eye as he leapt like a fish and crashed to the surface, a dig a those who brand him a diver. “My celebration?” he added. “If you had seen my Twitter this week, you will have seen that I was getting a bit of abuse. But I like that interaction with the fans. It’s a bit of banter, at the end of the day. It just wasn’t funny when we then concede a couple of minutes later.”

That was the issue for Hibs at Pittodrie, Their 12th-minute lead was cancelled out moments later by Devlin and Hibs’ leaky defence coughed up a poor second strike on 51 minutes when Jamie McGrath pounced on disorganisation at the heart of the back four. But Hibs don’t tend to hide when they go behind. Emiliano Marcondes levelled on 67 minutes with another VAR-checked goal to secure their seventh 2-2 of the league season.

Like Hibs, Aberdeen have only won six Premiership matches all season. Neil Warnock’s only victory since coming in as interim manager was in the Scottish Cup against Bonnyrigg Rose and there was frustration that they did not build on going 2-1 ahead. Warnock also fumed at not getting a penalty for an incident where David Marshall caught Bojan Miovski while clearing the ball with a punch.

“We should have won the game,” said Dons captain Graeme Shinnie. “We were the better team in the first half. They had more of the ball in the second half but in terms of chances we had decent opportunities. We’re never going to win games with the goals we’re conceding. We’re gifting teams goals and it’s something we need to work on. Going forward we’ve been fine. In two games we’ve scored five goals but the problem is we’ve conceded five on the back of that.

Aberdeen are at fourth-placed Kilmarnock on Saturday and Shinnie says Warnock’s influence is starting to rub off on the squad. “He tells you exactly how it is, he doesn’t sugar coat anything,” added the midfielder. “It’s not as if Barry [Robson] lost the dressing room. Everyone was playing for him. But the manager has put his own stamp on how he wants to play. The other night we played a five which didn’t work. Today we went back to a four as he is clearly trying to work things out. It’s been tough. Drawing at home with Dundee, Motherwell and now Hibs. The goals we’re conceding are frustrating but we will take the point and move on.”