BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Falkirk manager Peter Houston has issued an apology to Hibs for wrongly accusing John McGinn of ‘going down easily’ to try and win a penalty at the weekend.
But Bairns defender Luke Leahy insists the midfielder’s failure to win a spot-kick was ‘justice’ after the controversy of the previous meeting of the teams at the Falkirk Stadium.
Houston took the unusual step of issuing a public apology for the comments he made in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Hibs.
Minutes after the full-time whistle, the former Scotland assistant warned McGinn, who was brought down by Leahy inside the box in the second-half, that he could earn a reputation for trying to con referees in an attempt to earn his team penalties.
That was a reference to Hibs’ 1-0 victory back in October when the Scotland under-21 captain won the match-winning spot-kick when he crashed to the turf having appeared to simply run into Blair Alston.
However, having since watched Sunday’s game back, Houston phoned Hibs counterpart Alan Stubbs yesterday to say sorry for the slur and has confessed the Easter Road side could have had a penalty on this occasion.
He said: “After reviewing the footage of the incident, in hindsight John, who is an extremely talented football player, had a strong case for a penalty and fair credit to the lad for attempting to play on.
“At the time of making the comments I hadn’t seen the footage properly.
“I’ve called Alan Stubbs to apologise to John for the comments that were made.”
Leahy appears unrepentant for his part in the incident, however, and has insisted John Beaton’s decision not to award a spot-kick makes up for the error of fellow referee Alan Muir earlier in the season.
Derek Rae, the match commentator for BT Sport, who covered Sunday’s game live, tweeted in support of McGinn, who he said had “tried to keep playing after Luke Leahy’s clearly bad tackle”.
However, Leahy took to Twitter to respond, saying: “Wasn’t a bad tackle at all. If anything, it was justice for the last time at the Falkirk stadium.”
The left-back added: “What goes around comes around.”