HIBERNIAN head coach Paul Heckingbottom has accused fourth official Gavin Duncan of swearing at him during a fiery Edinburgh derby showdown, insisting he would have ‘knocked his teeth out’ in any other circumstances.
The bust-up appeared to occur toward the end of the first period, when Daryl Horgan was denied a free-kick by whistler Craig Thomson, prompting Heckingbottom to kick out at his own dugout.
After being reprimanded by Duncan, the former Barnsley and Leeds boss was visibly seething and had to be held back by his goalkeeping coach Alan Combe.
Asked what had caused him to be so animated, he told BBC Scotland: “It didn’t help getting sworn at by the fourth official, I’d have knocked his teeth out if it was anywhere else. So that was one of the reasons.”
Heckingbottom declined the opportunity to expand on the incident when he addressed the written media moments later.
The Englishman instead chose to focus on his own side’s profligacy as Hibs paid the price for a host of wasted opportunities.
Marc McNulty was the prime villain, slamming a second-half penalty wide of the post after Uche Ikpeazu had fouled Paul Hanlon. Vykintas Slivka also saw a point-blank header brilliantly saved by Zdenek Zlamal.
When the hosts did finally break the deadlock it was courtesy of a Christophe Berra own goal and that seemed to bring about an immediate shift in mentality from the Hibees, allowing Hearts to take the initiative and ultimately level through Ikpeazu.
“You cannot begrudge it,” said Heckingbottom. “If you are not clinical at one end and there is only one goal in it, it doesn’t matter who you are playing – teams are going to get chances. They will be dangerous. So you are playing a dicey game if you try to hold onto one goal.
“We have had games where we have been really clinical and other games where we have made it difficult for ourselves by missing chances – this was one of the latter.
“The second half was really good but, if you watch the goal go in, there was a mentality shift which is what we don’t want. We didn’t we allowed them to get a bit of momentum.”
On McNulty’s missed spot-kick, Heckingbottom added: “He will be disappointed but he’s scored plenty for us and I’m sure he will score the next one. It’s just one of those things.”