Jack Ross admits Hibernian players were ‘spooked’ by Joe Newell’s dismissal
Jack Ross admits his Hibernian side were “spooked” by Joe Newell’s controversial dismissal against Santa Coloma before eventually running out 3-0 winners in a tetchy Europa Conference League qualifier at Easter Road.
Martin Boyle gave Hibs the lead from the spot in the 13th minute and then the home side wobbled after Newell was shown a straight red card on 28 minutes by Icelandic referee Vilhjalmur Thorarinsson for a challenge on defender Robert Ramos.
Boyle’s second goal two minutes after the restart had Hibs fans back in fine fettle as did the red card handed to Hamza Ryahi Bouharma in the 67th minute for a ‘last man’ foul on Boyle and to Ramos for a second yellow five minutes later.
Kevin Nisbet added a third in the 79th minute to give extra leeway for the second leg next week.
Manager Ross, who will appeal Newell’s dismissal if he thinks it is appropriate and he is able to once he has had another look at the incident, said: “It was eventful. The first 20 minutes goes to plan, scoring, then of course the officiating is questionable not just in that period but through the course of the game and it results in…
“I think when we went a man down we were spooked by it and didn’t respond particularly well in that period but getting in at half-time unscathed was important.
“Changing the system at half-time was affirmation of the players still being good players and that doesn’t change when you go down to 10 men.
“I know the game changes again with the other sendings off, but before that we looked a better side again and the players deserved credit for that, for responding, as we had that period when we lost that little bit of composure but regained it well.”
On Newell’s challenge, Ross said: “I haven’t seen it but my staff have and they’re all in agreement it wasn’t a red card.
“I think there was even people doubting whether it was a yellow.
“I think it went hand in hand with how the game had started from an officiating point of view.”
Hibs revealed earlier in the day that they had signed Orlando City’s Chris Mueller on a pre-contract to join in January and Ross admits he would like him in earlier.
He said: “Ideally we’d like to get him earlier. We have worked incredibly hard to bring him in.
“I think he’s a brilliant signing for us and a really exciting one. Naturally for me as a manager I would like him in now.
“Six months is a long time in football management and you want your best players available so we are hopeful.
“The worst-case scenario is we get him in January.
“Now he has committed to us and it’s out in the public domain quite often that lends itself to getting him quicker and it would be brilliant if it did.”