No excuses! Hibs defender Paul Hanlon insists players, not the referee, were to blame for shock Ayr United defeat



Paul Hanlon has refused to use the red card shown to Marvin Bartley as an excuse for Hibernian’s remarkable reverse at the hands of unfancied Ayr United.

Referee Nick Walsh was public enemy number one at Easter Road after dismissing tough-tackling midfielder Bartley for a mis-timed lunge on Jamie Adams with 20 minutes left to play.

That rattled the Hibees, who were well on course to register a sixth straight win – their best ever start to a league season – following Jason Cummings’ opener.

paulhanlonAnd goals from Conrad Balatoni and Brian Gilmour, which were clinical by Ayr but woefully defended by Hibs, completed a stunning turnaround.

Head coach Neil Lennon questioned Walsh’s call following the clash, describing the challenge as “innocuous” and insisting the decision completely changed the game.

However, Hanlon is adamant insists the responsibility lies squarely at the door of the players.

“The sending off changed things a bit, but we should still have had enough to see out the game,” said an honest Hanlon.  “I’m more looking at the things that happened after the sending off.

“The referee makes a decision and we need to adjust, we need to be good enough to handle that situation – and we weren’t.

“The equaliser is a set-piece, then we have been caught with a breakaway. These things shouldn’t happen.

“That [missed record] is an added thing. It wasn’t something I had thought about too much in the build-up to the game but, looking back now, it is probably something that makes the defeat an extra disappointment.”

The result serves to tantalisingly tee up next Saturday’s trip to Queen of the South for Hibs, with the Dumfries side – inspired by the mercurial Stephen Dobbie – having usurped the Hibees at the summit of the Championship.

“Queen of the South is always a tough one, ever since we were relegated that has never been an easy game,” added Hanlon. “But it’s one to look forward to and shaping up to be a big game. We’ll be back and full of confidence and looking to get the win.”