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Morton chief executive says fourth official used ‘foul and abusive language’

Morton chief executive David MacKinnon has accused fourth official Kevin Graham of using foul and abusive language and “manhandling” boss David Hopkin during their 5-3 Betfred Cup defeat against Hibernian.

MacKinnon has confirmed that he intends to contact the Scottish Football Association’s head of refereeing following a fractious afternoon at Easter Road, with Graham alleged to have grabbed Hopkin by the arm during a clash in the first half.

To add insult to injury, Graham then played a key role in Hopkin being dismissed from the touchline in the acrimonious aftermath of Florian Kamberi’s crucial second goal of the afternoon, which made it 4-3 in extra-time.

The Ton gaffer was adamant that John Sutton had been fouled in the build-up but referee Alan Muir was informed that his protestations had stepped over the line.

“I saw the fourth official (Graham) manhandling our manager during the first half – grabbing him by the arm,” said MacKinnon.

“If the roles had been reversed there would have been an issue.

“So why a fourth official feels he can grab a manager by the arm and pull him is beyond me.

“When he grabbed David, he also used foul and abusive language, which was witnessed. We’ve informed the match delegate of that and it will be in the report.

“As chief executive of the club I will phone (Scottish FA’s head of refereeing) John Fleming.”

Addressing Hopkin being sent to the stands Morton number two Anton McElhone, speaking in place of the manager, also pulled no punches.

He added: “It’s an absolute disgrace the manager has been sent to the stand for no apparent reason. He’s a passionate man, but he has not done anything wrong in the game.

“There were decisions earlier as well, John Sutton was being held and you could see that from the side as clear as day – they were getting stuff that was favouring them.”

The hosts let a comfortable 2-0 lead slip in the first half when an instinctive finish by Bob McHugh and a Lewis Stevenson own goal cancelled out strikes by Scott Allan and Josh Vela.

Hibs reclaimed their advantage after the break when Kamberi pounced on an error by Danny Rogers, only for Morton to level on the cusp of full-time when Steven Whittaker turned into his own net.

However, that contentious Kamberi effort in extra-time and a late Christian Doidge goal secured Hibs’ passage to the last-eight.

Hibs assistant head coach Robbie Stockdale added: “We were really comfortable in the first half and scored two good goals.

“But what happened before half-time serves as a really good lesson that if you don’t keep doing those things, it can come back to bite you. It was all our own doing.”