HEARTS manager Craig Levein has hit back at Neil Lennon’s claim that Hibs were ‘kicked off the park’ during Wednesday’s goal-less Edinburgh derby clash, insisting that the former Celtic midfielder made a career out of doing it.
Hibs boss Lennon made the remarks in the wake of a Tynecastle stalemate that was overshadowed by a controversial ‘goal’ by Hibs striker Oli Shaw that was not given, despite narrowly crossing the line.
Hearts committed 15 fouls in the game compared to Hibs’ 12, but Lennon took exception to what he perceived as his city rival’s combative approach, saying: “We outplayed them and they kicked us off the park.
“That’s not tackling. It’s booting people, pushing people, just going into the back of them or going in late.”
But Levein insists being overly physical in matches was Lennon’s trademark during a trophy-laden career with the Hoops.
Levein, whose injury-hit side take on Aberdeen at Pittodrie today, said: “Lenny forgets I watched him play.
“He made a career out of it, I’ve got to laugh. He made a career out of kicking people.
“Lenny is making a point, but I remember in the first five minutes (Anthony) Stokes elbowing one of our players in the face. I’m not going to go running to my mummy and say, ‘the big boy hit me and ran away’. There is no point in that.
“We can go through the game and talk about every situation, it was a proper derby match and I’m not sure the ball was required, to be honest with you.”
Amid what is now a nine game winless run against their bitter city rivals, Hearts had been accused of being bullied and too passive in this fixture, and Levein was adamant that his players would not lose the physical battle.
He added: “That’s the thing in the last two or three years that we have maybe been accused of not doing.
“It’s just not acceptable, we can’t get steamrollered by Hibs – the supporters just won’t have it.”