St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright last night accused Florian Kamberi of conning referee Gavin Duncan to win a penalty that underpinned an against-the-odds victory for Hibs in Perth.
Counterpart Paul Heckingbottom praised the “character” of his ten-man side for never giving up on a victory they earned with an 84th-minute winner that allowed Marc McNulty to add to his earlier penalty conversion after going behind early on.
But Wright questioned the character of Swiss forward Kamberi for what he perceived as a dive in 64 minutes that he insisted was the turning point, despite Hibs midfielder Vykintas Slivka being dismissed for a second yellow shortly afterward.
Wright said: “We should have gone two up before half-time and we were under no pressure. And then the referee gets conned for the penalty. It’s not a penalty, simple. “I don’t blame the ref. I’ve watched it back and you’ve got to be embarrassed for the lad - well, maybe not, I’m not sure what type of character he is. But he’s conned the referee, simple.
“That’s the game-changer. It’s not the reason why we lost the game but it was a game-changer in terms of them getting back into it.”
Heckingbottom said: “When we got a man sent off – and we talked about taking him off seconds before it happened – we had to show character and that’s what pleased me.
“I kept two strikers on because I have talked a lot about centre forwards being key for me. They had to do so much work in and out of possession, so they did defensive work when we didn’t have it.
“There’s nothing worse than sitting back soaking up pressure, it’s not enjoyable but the momentum had shifted after the red card so I was comfortable we knew our jobs well enough to play with ten men.”
Heckingbottom hinted he could give a contract for the rest of the season to ex-Manchester United defender Jonathan Spector. The 31-year-old watched from the McDiarmid Park stands last night.
The Hibs boss said: “We are light in that position. He is unattached so he’s having a look at us and we are having a look at him.”