Kilmarnock-Hibs verdict: VAR madness has to stop after terrible red card call, Marcondes masterclass, flimsy defence costly again

Killie and Hibs serve up great entertainment – but once again intervention from Clydesdale House is main talking point

After such an entertaining 2-2 draw between Hibs and Kilmarnock, the overriding theme should not be VAR. However, the circumstances that led to Corrie Ndaba’s red card that ultimately gave Hibs the impetus to earn a point at Rugby Park need examined.

Kilmarnock were leading 2-1 on 73 minutes when their defender Corrie Ndaba put in a sliding tackle on Jair Tavares. The Killie man won the ball, clean as a whistle, and while his follow-through caught the Portuguese winger’s ankle, it was far from a dangerous tackle. Some would argue – including Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes – that it wasn’t even a foul. Nevertheless, referee Grant Irvine issued a yellow card but moments later, he signalled to his ear. VAR operator Nick Walsh had intervened and a check ensued for serious foul play. When Irvine went to the monitor, McInnes knew the writing was on the wall, already preparing a defensive change. The yellow was upgraded to red. Eight minutes later, Hibs sub Myziane Maolida levelled.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Whatever your view on VAR, this match highlighted some of its numerous issues. Firstly, anyone who has played football will tell you that when you put in a sliding tackle, you can’t just magically make your foot disappear after taking the ball. Impact happens, this is a contact sport. Ndaba had no intent to injure his opponent. In real time, Irvine deemed a caution sufficient. However, when Walsh – holed up in the sterile environment of Clydesdale House – slowed the incident down to within an inch of its life, he reckoned it was worthy of a red card. Given Walsh is one of the best and most senior officials in Scottish football, his view was always going to hold sway.

Kilmarnock's Corrie Ndaba was sent off for this challenge on Hibs' Jair Tavares in an eventful 2-2 draw.Kilmarnock's Corrie Ndaba was sent off for this challenge on Hibs' Jair Tavares in an eventful 2-2 draw.
Kilmarnock's Corrie Ndaba was sent off for this challenge on Hibs' Jair Tavares in an eventful 2-2 draw.

Hibs may have gone on to equalise regardless of whether Kilmarnock had 11 men on the pitch. Trailing 2-0 after a 25th-minute Dylan Vente own goal and then Matty Kennedy’s 54th minute strike, a pearler of a finish by Joe Newell on 66 minutes had given Hibs oxygen after being left on the canvass. Yet the decision to send off Ndaba had serious consequences on Kilmarnock’s ability to hold on for what would have been a precious three points.

“Corrie was in line with me and he has won the ball,” said McInnes afterwards, clearly seething at the decision. “I have seen the angles that show that, he’s low, he’s not reckless and and the referee is three yards away. He was in an unbelievable position and he has deemed it a yellow. I was disappointed he booked him because I thought he had won the ball.

“For Nick Walsh and VAR to get involved in that, I find disappointing and strange. Unless there is a different angle I’ve not seen, it’s not dangerous or violent. He’s not high, he’s not going in at excessive speed or going in to hurt the boy. Yes, there is a follow through but what is Corrie meant to do? It’s not his fault Tavares’ leg is there but he’s not tried to stamp or anything – he’s won the ball. I don’t even think it’s a yellow card. The ref did and that should have sufficed.

“It changes the course of the game. HIbs might have been good enough to get something out of the game, Joe Newell scores an unbelievable goal and it gave them a lifeline, but the red card also gave them a bigger lift. Whether VAR has gone for or against me, I have always said the same thing. Let the referee ref the game. Don’t get involved unless you really need to – and I have not seen that with this challenge. This wasn’t what VAR was meant for. It was for the big decisions. The referees are not being referees any more. They are not getting the chance to referee what they see.”

Hibs' Myziane Maolida came off the bench to make it 2-2 in a gripping match against Kilmarnock.Hibs' Myziane Maolida came off the bench to make it 2-2 in a gripping match against Kilmarnock.
Hibs' Myziane Maolida came off the bench to make it 2-2 in a gripping match against Kilmarnock.

McInnes said this was not the angriest he has been with VAR – “it was similar to Kyle Vassell at Easter Road last season, John Beaton was two yards away from the incident” – but he was clear on the cost for his team. Hibs had always looked dangerous in the final third but were brittle at the back. Kyle Vassell noised up centre-halves Will Fish and Paul Hanlon and the whole back-four struggled to deal with crosses. The opening goal from Dan Armstrong’s delicious delivery was a product of Hibs firstly not stopping the ball in and then not being physical enough, the second another Armstrong cross that Kennedy poked in after indecisiveness from goalkeeper David Marshall and his defenders. Killie always carried a major threat.

Fair play to Hibs though, they kept plugging away – although nobody could have predicted the manner of their equaliser. On his weaker right foot, Newell side-footed one of those one-in-a-million volleys from outside the box that kissed the bar on its way in. Game on, and then even more so after Ndaba’s red. The leveller from Maolida was a powerful finish after a raking pass from Dylan Levitt. Christian Doidge ought to have won it at the death but despite hanging in the air like a basketball player, he planted his header wide from close range.

Hibs boss Nick Montgomery rightly hailed the performance of the classy Emiliano Marcondes and the character of his team afterwards. Marcondes looks a right good playmaker, passing the ball crisply and always aiming to attack. Once fully fit, he could be a serious asset. Maolida appeared short of match fitness against Rangers during the week but was far more effective here. Hibs, however, still need reinforcements to add more ballast to a flimsy defence if they are to have a successful season. Just before kick-off, the signing of Nathan Moriah-Welsh from Bournemouth was announced, a 21-year-old Guyanese midfielder from Bournemouth.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Hibs remain sixth in the Premiership but are now a whopping 16 points behind third-placed Hearts now. Killie remain in fourth and will rightly lament that the gap has grown to eight points with the Jambos rather than stay at six.

Related topics: