BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
NEIL LENNON believes referee Nick Walsh is responsible for wrecking Hibs’ bid to make history by dishing out an “innocuous” red card to Marvin Bartley.
The capital club, who would have registered their best EVER start to a league season with a sixth successive win, were cruising at 1-0 following Jason Cummings’ wonder-goal against a resilient Ayr side.
However, the contest was turned on its head when Bartley barrelled through Jamie Adams with a late challenge, prompting Walsh to give the tough tackling midfielder a straight red.
The visitors went on to claim a remarkable win thanks to goals from ex-Hearts kid Conrad Balatoni and Brian Gilmour – securing their first league win at Easter Road since 1978.
But Lennon insists Hibs would have completed a comfortable win if the clash remained 11 versus 11.
He rued: “The red card has completely changed the game and I’m not convinced it was a red card, Marvin has gone in low, with one leg, and he might have caught the boy late. But there was no malice in the tackle.
”We were in total control until that point, even at 0-0. I think Ayr had the ball in our box twice!
“It is definitely worth looking at [to consider an appeal] because I can’t believe he has sent Marv off.
”I think there were other cynical things going on that went unpunished or only received a yellow card, so a red card for that was very harsh to say the least.
“Marv is bitterly disappointed, and I think all the players were, because it looked pretty innocuous to me – just a late challenge, not two-footed, not high.”
However, the Hibs players were not spared Lennon’s wrath, with the Northern Irishman irked by yet more wastefulness in front of goal and sloppy defending.
He added: “What annoys me about today is conceding from a set play. That shouldn’t happen and we should be doing better. I’m annoyed, really annoyed, about that and it just gives Ayr a lifeline with an extra man. The second goal can happen when you are outnumbered in the box.
“We were also wasteful in front of goal, which is probably the only criticism I can regularly level at my team – we don’t put enough on the scoreboard when we are in control of games. There’s a lack of composure and that clinical touch.”