Robbie Neilson upset by penalty decisions as Hearts held by Hibernian

Celtic v Heart of Midlothian – cinch Premiership – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Robbie Neilson felt Hearts should have had two penalties after his side were held to a goalless draw by city rivals Hibernian at Easter Road.

The first flashpoint came in the 21st minute when Ellis Simms appeared to be bundled over in the box by Lewis Stevenson, who had already been booked.

And late in the match, from an indirect free-kick inside the box, Alex Cochrane saw a shot blocked by the hands of Stevenson.

He said: “I was pleased with the performance but I was disappointed with the referee’s performance. I thought there were two key incidents there where he’s got to make the right decision and he didn’t make it.

“We could have come in against 10 men with a penalty and hopefully 1-0 up. It was absolute 100 per cent stonewall and I don’t understand why it wasn’t given.

“I spoke to the ref about it. He said he hadn’t seen it yet but when he does I think he will agree with me.

“In real time, I thought 100 per cent it was a penalty but for some reason he doesn’t see it.

“There was a handball as well in the second half. The referee saw it and said in his opinion the arm was close enough to the body not to give it. But I disagree.”

Reflecting on the match, Neilson said: “It was quite a scrappy game. It was quite entertaining but there was not a lot of quality in the final wee moment.”

Hibs manager Shaun Maloney was proud of the way his side competed after some underwhelming recent performances.

He said: “There were chances for both teams and we felt we had the momentum at the end and that might have swayed it towards us, but I think it was a fair result.

“I have to be very proud of what the players produced out there. It was a very good performance.”

Maloney felt the Hibs supporters appreciated their team’s effort in a game in which many felt Hearts would come out on top.

He said: “I had a really good atmosphere in my first home game against Aberdeen but what I felt tonight was completely different. The connection between the support and the players was something I hadn’t felt.

“It was an incredible feeling. What the players gave, the support gave just as much back.”

Maloney also paid tribute to 23-year-old goalkeeper Kevin Dabrowski, who pulled off three second-half saves from Simms on his debut after stepping in for the injured Matt Macey.

He said: “His performance was outstanding. The way he played tonight is how he’s been training but to replicate that in the biggest game of our season is just a huge credit to him. He can be really pleased with how he performed, enjoy the night and get back to it tomorrow.”

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