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Hibs boss Neil Lennon again calls for better protection from match officials

Hibs Manager Neil Lennon (SNS Group /  Craig Foy)
Hibs Manager Neil Lennon (SNS Group / Craig Foy)

HIBS boss Neil Lennon has again called for better protection for his players from match officials.

Lennon is currently serving a three-game touchline ban following his reaction to being sent to the stand during a game against Kilmarnock, but saw his side come in for rough treatment against St Johnstone before the international break.

Tommy Wright’s side committed 17 fouls and received five yellow cards as they claimed a point to stymie Hibs’ march towards the top three, and Lennon says something needs to be done to offer more protection.

Hibs are currently the most fouled side in the Ladbrokes Premiership this season, having been on the end of 421 fouls – an average of over 14 per game – to the frustration of the Easter Road boss.

“They (St Johnstone) had five bookings, so that’s half the outfield team booked,” Lennon said ahead of his side’s clash with Partick Thistle. “There was some very borderline tackles going in on the players.

“Some were crass and some were lunges, the combination of tackles should have resulted in at least one player being sent off.”

On the number of fouls in general, he added: “Brutality is the wrong word, it’s the coarseness of the tackling that has upset me.

“I don’t mind tackles or shoulder charges, but the lateness and off-the-ball stuff and amount of fouls given against my team; it’s up in the 20s most weeks when I come out and say we need more protection.

“We are the most fouled team in the league now. The one on (John) McGinn, he’s had two now – (Harry) Cochrane and (Blair) Alston – and to me they’re unacceptable in the game.

“They’re not tackles, they’re just kicking a player off the ball to stop him progressing.

“John, being strong-minded and a strong build is probably pretty fortunate to go away with Scotland after his treatment on the Friday night.”

Lennon has courted controversy with match officials this season following his criticism of referee Kevin Clancy after a decision to award Kilmarnock a penalty in February, but he maintains it is the inconsistency in decision-making that is frustrating him most.

“This season we have pointed out four or five game-changing decisions and it’s the inconsistency that’s bugging me more than anything else,” he said.