Soccer

Lee Johnson hits out at Steven Naismith after fiery end to Edinburgh derby

Lee Johnson was shown a post-match red card (Steve Welsh/PA)
Lee Johnson was shown a post-match red card (Steve Welsh/PA)

Hibernian manager Lee Johnson took aim at his Hearts counterpart Steven Naismith as tempers flared in the aftermath of a fiery Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle.

The pair were at loggerheads throughout as the 10-man Jambos, who had Alex Cochrane sent off in the first half, held on for a point to secure fourth place in the cinch Premiership and prevent their city rivals leapfrogging them.

Johnson, whose side levelled through a Kevin Nisbet free-kick after Yutaro Oda’s early opener, even had a hot-water bottle thrown in his direction from the home dugout after he entered the Hearts technical area to retrieve the ball.

After the two managers frostily shook hands at full-time, Johnson appeared to dig Naismith in the ribs with his fist, before a skirmish erupted in the centre circle when Hearts sub goalkeeper Ross Stewart leaned his elbow into the Hibs boss as he walked past him.

Johnson, Stewart, Hearts goalkeeping coach Paul Gallacher and Hibs defender Rocky Bushiri were all shown red cards afterwards, while an investigation is likely after Hibs substitute Marijan Cabraja appeared to be struck by a Hearts supporter while attempting to grab the ball to take a throw-in.

Asked about what caused the tension, Johnson said: “I couldn’t even tell you. It was a classic ‘my dad’s bigger than your dad’ melee-type thing.

“It was a frustrating game in terms of the ebb and the flow because there was no flow. The time-wasting was quite embarrassing at times.

“It was a case of two managers who don’t like each other very much and that’s what started it.

“I’ll keep the hot water bottle that was thrown at me for winter!

“There was a bit of needle but it happens, technical areas are a passionate place. It’s not a problem, we move on.

“I’ve been a manager that long, you see it all in the technical area. It means nothing.”

Pressed on why there was needle between he and Naismith, who has been in charge of Hearts since Johnson’s former team-mate Robbie Neilson was sacked in April, the Hibs boss said: “He’s had seven games as a manager and I just think the way he speaks is disrespectful to the previous manager.

“We’ll see after 250 games if he’s lucky enough to still be in charge of any club and if he still has that attitude.”

Naismith dismissed Johnson’s claims of disrespect towards Neilson.

“He’s fishing I think, that’s what he’s doing,” he said.

The 36-year-old also defended himself in the face of Johnson’s dig about only having been a manager for seven games.

“I’ve got a 15-year career at the top level,” he said. “I’ve managed to pull things from some of the best managers around Britain.

“I’ve been in a role for the last two years under arguably Scotland’s best manager (Steve Clarke) for a long period of time.

“I’m not naive to think I know everything, but what I have done is my homework. I’ve had two solid years of good coaching.”

Asked about the post-match flare-up, Naismith – whose side are guaranteed a crack at the Europa Conference League next term – said: “I’m not sure to be honest, I was shaking hands and getting out of there, I wasn’t getting involved in anything.

“I know these situations can turn into things, especially in a derby with high emotions, but I was just buzzing to get the result and enjoy it with the fans.”