BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
John McGinn admitted referee Alan Muir made the wrong decision by awarding Hibs their decisive penalty against Falkirk, Bairns boss Peter Houston has claimed.
The former St Mirren star hared into the box after 40 minutes and knocked the ball around Blair Alston before barreling straight into the Falkirk midfielder and falling to the ground.
It appeared impossible for Alston to evade McGinn, who was barracked with chants of ‘cheat, cheat, cheat’ for the rest of a fractious fixture, and Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs later described the decision as “very soft”.
However, Jason Cummings showed no mercy in slotting home the spot-kick which secured a 1-0 win – and sent the Hibees into second spot in the Championship.
Houston said: “It was John McGinn who said to one of our players that it was never a penalty. He said that to Paul Watson, our centre-half. I wasn’t looking at John McGinn in the aftermath. I was busy shouting at Mr Muir.
“But whatever John McGinn says doesn’t matter – it is about what Alan Muir says. We need to accept it, but I think it was a wrong call.
“I didn’t think it was a penalty and I don’t think the referee had a great view of it. Hibs players have said to Falkirk players before half-time that they didn’t think it was a penalty kick – and I agree with them.
“I feel aggrieved because I thought we deserved something out of the game.”
Muir was forced to navigate a visibly irate Houston on his way down the tunnel at half-time
Houston is already facing an SFA hearing for insinuating “bias and incompetence” towards John McKendrick following Falkirk’s recent 3-1 defeat against Rangers.
His relationship with – and opinion of – officialdom is unlikely to have improved after last night. Nevertheless, he chose his words carefully.
He continued: “I politely said ‘Mr Muir . . . ‘ but I didn’t swear at him. I asked him why he gave the penalty because there was no way it was a penalty.
“He told me that if it happened anywhere else on the pitch he would have given a foul. I don’t agree with that but we have to clear our heads and move on.”
Stubbs, meanwhile, was full of praise for his side’s resilience after a stubborn defensive display, albeit the visitors were far from their fluent best.
He said: “I’m pleased with the performance. This is not an easy place to come to and we have dealt with everything they have thrown at us.
“The boys have stood firm and showed resilience. That is the most pleasing thing. If anyone thought we would be able to go there, dominate and play possession football, they were kidding themselves.”