Levein disrespectful, says Hibs' Lennon

Hearts manager Craig Levein and Hibs' Neil Lennon

Hibernian boss Neil Lennon has called Craig Levein “disrespectful” after his Hearts counterpart claimed natural order had been restored.

The pair were reacting after Hearts’ 1-0 win in the Scottish Cup ended Hibs’ run of nine derbies undefeated.

“What does that mean? Restoring natural order?” head coach Lennon told the Press Association.

“I don’t understand what that is – Hearts beating Hibs every time? There’s a lack of humility in that statement.”

Hearts have 138 victories in Edinburgh derbies to Hibs’ 83, with 94 draws.

But the Easter Road side had knocked Hearts out of the cup at the same stage in the previous two seasons and are one place and five points above their Edinburgh rivals in the Scottish Premiership.

“I think it’s a pretty poor statement to make and disrespectful to the club, players and me,” said Lennon. “I don’t think I’ve ever made a statement like that.

“We have two games to come, so we will see if natural order is restored then.

“It’s not good. I don’t know what he means by that, but they haven’t won in nine, it’s my first defeat in five and we should have won the game here.”

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Lennon was referring to last month’s league game, when Hibs striker Oli Shaw’s shot struck the bar and rebounded over the line only to be disallowed in a 0-0 draw.

The same goalmouth was the scene for Hearts’ winner this time as Hibs midfielder John McGinn was unable to prevent Don Cowie deflecting in a Christophe Berra header.

Levein had admitted to PA his relief because Hibs were “gaining some momentum” in the fixture “and I wanted to restore the natural order of things”.

Lennon had spoken to BBC Scotland before hearing Levein’s remarks and praised his side despite the defeat.

“You’ve got to be philosophical about it,” he said. “I don’t think there was much in the game, as I expected.

“Both teams missed good chances early on and then Hearts maybe had the upper hand, but we had another good chance just before they got the corner for the goal.

“We were unlucky and it’s a very difficult pitch to play football on and it suits Hearts more than us, but we’ve adapted fairly well.

“I would like to congratulate my players because it is a hell of a derby run they have been on and to lose it so closely speaks volumes for their determination.

“We can’t win every game, but we’ll come again although it is a major disappointment to go out the cup.”

BBC Sport – Football

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