15 May 2024

Interim boss David Gray pleased Hibernian were able to give duo fitting send-off

15 May 2024

Interim boss David Gray was delighted that embattled Hibernian were able to give long-serving duo Paul Hanlon and Lewis Stevenson a triumphant Easter Road send-off.

A Myziane Maolida penalty and Martin Boyle double helped Hibs to a 3-0 win over Motherwell on a rousing evening in Leith after a turbulent few days in which the club sacked manager Nick Montgomery following Sunday’s 4-0 home defeat by Aberdeen.

Hanlon and Stevenson – with more than 1,100 appearances between them for the Edinburgh club – were cheered off the pitch when they were substituted together in stoppage time as they prepare to move on to pastures new after Sunday’s final cinch Premiership match away to Livingston.

“It was an emotional occasion,” said Gray. “To spend that moment with their families as well who have lived through many highs and many lows with them at this club, I’m delighted for the two of them and everybody involved with them because they truly deserve it.

“The message tonight was about the reaction from the weekend, and the motivation was to give the lads the send-off they deserved.

“They are two fantastic servants to the club, ultimate professionals. If there is a way to sign off, it’s with a 3-0 win at home.”

Motherwell boss Stuart Kettlewell was angered by the penalty award for Hibs’ opening goal, arguing that Stephen O’Donnell had no chance of getting out of the way as he was penalised for blocking Maolida’s shot with his hand.

“There’s so much frustration,” he said. “We had the same incident, in fact it was from a further distance against Aberdeen not so long ago. We asked the question at the time and were told Graeme Shinnie was too close to the ball.

“Tonight Stephen is not even a yard away from the opposition player and the ball ricochets off his hand and the referee instantly gives it.

“The referee said he was happy with the decision today because it was consistent with what has happened across the season. I totally disagree.

“I have seen them given, but the last one I saw very similar to that wasn’t given, and the reason was the player knew nothing about it.

“I’d love someone to tell me Stephen knew anything about that tonight.

“We knew there would be a bounce tonight as they looked to get behind their interim manager.

“The penalty was a big moment in the game, but I think we can show a better reaction than we did tonight. It spooked us.”

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