Neil Lennon laments penalty call as Hibs '˜batter' Rangers

Neil Lennon lamented the failure of the match officials to award Hibs a penalty last night in what he described as the '¨'biggest battering' handed out by a team of his to a Rangers side.

Hibernian manager Neil Lennon. Picture: SNS
Hibernian manager Neil Lennon. Picture: SNS

Hibs lost ground on the Ibrox side in the race for second place when they lost 2-1 at Easter Road. Lennon’s side opened the scoring through Lewis Stevenson but were hurt by two goals within three 
minutes from Josh Windass and Alfredo Morelos at the end of the first half.

The contentious penalty decision came with 15 minutes left when David Bates, a second-half substitute, hand-balled while trying to clear an Efe Ambrose cross. Referee Kevin Clancy looked to his far-side assistant Dougie Potter and received no encouragement to award the spot-kick.

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But Lennon said: “It’s as clear a penalty as you will ever see.

“It’s hand to ball, he’s even leaned into it. The linesman has a great view, so how he hasn’t given it I don’t know. Everyone on that side of the ground could see it and you could tell from the reaction of the players.”

“I don’t feel hard done by, I thought we were sensational. Sometimes you just don’t get what you deserve. We hit the post twice, worked the keeper and missed good chances in the first half.

“I have been involved with Celtic and this is the biggest battering I have given Rangers as a manager. In the second half we were just camped in their half. I’m disappointed to lose, you know me, but delighted with the performance.”

Hibs are now six points behind Rangers in the Ladbrokes Premiership and Lennon admitted three points are essential against Aberdeen on Saturday if Hibs wish to remain on the coat-tails of both Rangers and the Pittodrie side, who are level on points in joint second place.

“Six points is nothing at this stage,” he added.

Lennon made a point of praising Rangers caretaker manager Graeme Murty, pictured, whose take on the match resembled that of Lennon. “I saw Graeme speaking on TV and he handles himself really well,” said Lennon. “I am really pleased for him personally.”

Rangers have now won four games in succession under Murty, who praised his team for reacting so positively to criticism earlier in the season.

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“Wins just breed confidence,” he said. “The players in there have been pilloried at times, given stick. They’ve found a way to stand up to it.

“These are still just baby steps on where we want to get to. I’m delighted with the three points,” he added. “I endured that more than enjoyed it.”