Falkirk 0-1 Hibernian
(Cummings 40 minutes)
What week for match officials getting it wrong in penalty decisions.
Last Sunday, Australia benefited at the rugby world cup, and on Tuesday night, Hibernian almost certainly can thank match official Alan Muir for all three points against Falkirk.
If this was a high profile game with slightly more at stake, then the inept Mr Muir might have taken a wee bit of the heat off rugby blunder ref, Craig Joubert.
As it was, only five thousand or so inside the Falkirk stadium witnessed the ref award a penalty to Hibs, after John McGinn pushed the ball past Blair Alston and then ran into him, five minutes before the break.
Yes, that’s what happened.
John McGinn wasn’t looking for a penalty, Blair Alston certainly wasn’t thinking anyone would be daft enough to expect a penalty, but Alan Muir pointed straight to the spot with all the conviction of a rugby official denying a small country their rightful place in the semi-finals of the World cup.
It was more than soft, and had Peter Houston not been in trouble last week with the SFA, I’m sure the Bairns boss might have had to be restrained at half time after watching Jason Cummings stick away the penalty to give the visitors an interval lead.
The Falkirk manager still let the Ref know exactly what he thought of his decision at the break, but maybe not as vociferously as he would have liked.
Falkirk had their own claim for a penalty for a Darren McGregor hand ball waved away and that probably compounded their sense of injustice throughout the ninety minutes.
Lee Miller hit the bar with a header, but that apart, Hibs seemed more than happy with an unusual aerial attack tactic from Falkirk, which produced little in the latter stages of the game.
This is a different Hibs side from the one that slipped up earlier in the season away at Dumbarton. They look stronger and more determined to grind out a win at all costs.
Alan Stubbs certainly feels he has a different mindset from an ever improving group of players.
“We are a shadow of the poor performance we showed at Dumbarton earlier in the season.”
The Easter road outfit are now up to second in the table and the Hibs boss has to keep the momentum going with a tough away trip to Raith on Saturday before the visit of Rangers on November 1st. A game he is adamant is not at the forefront of his mind.
“We’ve got Raith on Saturday and we are not looking to the Rangers game whatsoever. Raith’s home record has been very good this season, so this is another tough ground to go to, but we are rising to the challenge.”
“We are chasing, because Rangers have had a fantastic start, but we are up for the fight.”
The manager and the Hibs players know that is when the real test of their title credentials will be tested and I am sure they would happily accept another helping hand from a match official, rightly or wrongly, if it meant they were neck and neck with Rangers heading into the winter months.
As for Referee Alan Muir’s performance on Tuesday, I await a statement from the SFA, well, maybe not.