Motherwell manager Craig Brown blamed their 3-2 defeat to Hibernian on his players not taking advantage of their initial superiority despite the home team’s grievances over several refereeing decisions.
Brown felt goalkeeper Darren Randolph, who plays for the Republic of Ireland U-21s, was impeded by Sol Bamba before Paul Hanlon bundled the ball over the line with the help of his arm to put Hibs 2-1 ahead in the 64th minute.
Motherwell soon had a strong penalty claim turned down by referee Craig Thomson when Chris Hogg bundled over John Sutton and Hibs went up the park to double their lead through Liam Miller.
Thomson did give the hosts a penalty when Colin Nish pulled substitute Nick Blackman’s shirt but, after Jamie Murphy had slotted the spot-kick home, Keith Lasley unsuccessfully claimed for handball when Bamba charged down his cross.
Brown was reluctant to criticise Thomson after his side lost an early lead earned by John Sutton’s deft flick by shipping a goal to Anthony Stokes at the end of a dominant first half of Clydesdale Bank Premier League action.
Brown said: “I think the penalty we got was the least obvious of three good penalty claims.
“But I think Craig Thomson is a good referee so I don’t want to criticise him. We have to fault ourselves for not finishing the job.
“We had the chances in the first half to be in an unassailable lead, if in a Motherwell-Hibs game any lead is unassailable.
“We fault ourselves for not taking those chances and give credit to Hibs, they battled their way back.”
Nevertheless, Brown clearly felt his side were the victim of several injustices after claiming the second goal was harsh on Randolph.
“Without question, he is going to be an asset here,” Brown said of the summer signing from Charlton.
“I don’t want him to have to make saves but he did make them and he made them very well.
“I’m quite sure he would have saved the second one across the face of goal but Bamba’s arm was locked around his arm. But I hate to just blame decisions.
“The game should have been out of sight and then we didn’t get a break in terms of decisions. We got one penalty but there was one after it and one before it.
“I said to my colleague Archie (Knox) ’Aberdeen got three in the one game’. But, as a rule, you don’t get three penalties.”
Hibs manager John Hughes felt his side were worthy winners and described Motherwell’s penalty as “soft”.
He added: “For the first 25 minutes Motherwell were the better team. I felt we were the better team in the second half. I’ve seen us play better football but it was a case of doing what we had to do to win the football match.
“I felt we were good for a further two or three goals, their keeper has made a few great saves.”
Hibs were generally comfortable in the latter stages as they banished memories of their four-goal collapse during May’s 6-6 draw at Fir Park.
“We got the substitutions right,” Hughes said. “Big David Stephens went on and gave us a physical presence because at that point it was high balls coming into our box.
“We just shut the door and on the counter-attack we could have been a bit better.”