BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HEARTS director of football Craig Levein will appear at Hampden tomorrow as the capital club fight the yellow card shown to Tony Watt for diving.
The Jambos have formally submitted an appeal against the caution, which was dished out by referee Craig Thomson after 30 minutes of Saturday’s 3-1 win over Hamilton at Tynecastle.
The Scotland internationalist fell to the ground under a challenge from Shaun Want and was swiftly punished by the experienced whistler however, after reviewing footage, Hearts are adamant there was contact.
Simulation is one of just two yellow card offences which can be appealed, along with cases of mistaken identity, and Hearts believe they have a strong case to vociferously defend their player against the charge.
Head coach Robbie Neilson and Watt himself were last night undecided regarding whether they would also appear at the hearing, however Levein is expected to lead the delegation.
Last season, Aberdeen defender Graeme Shinnie successfully won his appeal after being booked for simulation during a fixture against Dundee United.
Watt’s caution was not the only contentious incident during the Accies clash, with Sm Nicholson providing fury from the visitors after winning the 81st minute penalty which allowed them to claim a 2-1 lead.
The tricky winger fell to the turf under a challenge from Want, who was adamant there was no contact.
However, speaking after the match, Neilson stated firmly: “The [Hamilton] player goes in, he’s off the ground, and Nicholson goes down, so it’s a penalty.
“The referee’s made a decision and it looks like there’s real contact, so you have to accept and back the referee’s decision.”
Hearts were caught up in a diving storm earlier this term when Jamie Walker won a penalty against Celtic in August and was subsequently handed a two-game ban for simulation, despite the Jambos contesting the charge.
Hoops captain Scott Brown labelled Walker “a cheat” following the 2-1 win for the league champions.
Meanwhile, Neilson has urged his charges to embrace the opportunity to roar to the summit of the Ladbrokes Premiership this weekend.
Which Celtic not in action until Sunday, the Jambos will go one point clear of the Hoops if they defeat St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park – and, in doing so, register a fourth consecutive win.
Neilson said: “They’re hungry, and they know we can go top, albeit briefly, with a win. We have to believe we can compete at the top.”