Mark Gillespie spoke with Darian MacKinnon and Martin Canning after Saturday’s win over Ross County
It was an action-packed game today, how did you see it?
“It was, it was. The important thing for us today though, was that I didn’t think that we performed as well as we have in the previous games, and that we took the three points given the magnitude of the game against a team below us in the league table. We had to go and win that. Obviously, you can see that, as we were pegged back twice and kept on managing to find the character to get the next goal, and we pushed really hard for it. You can see with the confrontation at the end as well. It means a lot for both teams and I think both teams understood the importance of the game and of a win, and thankfully for us we took the three points.”
What was your take on the incident towards the end there?
“It looks like handbags again. It’s just one of these things in football.When two players square up, everyone from both teams seems to have to get involved to protect their own player. That’s just part of the game, it is part of the game but shouldn’t be. It’s happened now, and we’ll just move on.”
Have you spoke to Ioannis Skondras and asked him what happened?
“I have, and I think throughout the course of the game the guy has been giving him a bit of stick.They’ve been giving it back and forward and toward the end of the game, they’ve come together. Then I think van der Weg has come from nowhere, I don’t think he was even involved, it’s Skondras and someone else. Van der Weg comes from nowhere and just pushes Skondras out of the road, and I think Ioannis has taken exception to it. Everyone just piles in from there and it just becomes a bit of a mess.”
Do you think van der Weg was lucky to stay on the pitch?
“I think so, as I don’t think there would have been a confrontation if he hadn’t got involved. I don’t know why he gets involved. If he keeps out of it, Ioannis and the other guy are just going to part ways, go different ways and it’s sorted. But van der Weg literally comes in and shoves Ioannis aggressively, shoves him out the road and that is what gets Ioannis’ back up. So, if he doesn’t get involved there’s no issue. But he has got himself involved and Ioannis is the one that gets sent off.”
Has there been previous between these two, they seem to have been bickering all day?
“No, I don’t think so. I think the way Ioannis plays, he’s competitive and combative and can come across as an aggressive wee guy.But he’s actually a lovely wee guy when you get to know him. I think that with the way he looks and goes about his business he can come across like that. But I think the guys have been having a go during the game, I don’t know what’s been said. They’ve maybe been having a wee go and tried to wind him up. He hasn’t done a lot wrong initially and then he gets pushed by somebody who wasn’t actually involved and that gets his back up. He then tries to push him back and then as I say, it just becomes a bit of handbags.”
Owen Coyle was pretty frustrated with the referee. Did you feel frustrated too?
“I don’t feel that it was his best game if I’m being honest. I don’t like to criticise referees and I’ve sat here numerous times saying that. It’s a difficult job and they have to react after seeing an incident just the once, so, it’s a hard, hard job that they’ve got to go and do. They’ll have days when they get everything right and days when they get some things wrong, just like we do as managers. Maybe today was just one of those days and that’s just part of the game. Thankfully, we’ve come out on top and you don’t get as frustrated when that happens. Whereas, if you lose the game, that’s the thing that tends to get magnified in your mind more than it actually was, and when you look back it probably wasn’t.”
Well, pick the bones out of that one. Where do you start?
“I thought that it was probably a good game to watch from the stand, but it was as poor as we’ve played in a while, as in knocking the ball about throughout the game. I thought that County were the better side in the first half, and the second half was a bit more balanced. We were probably fortunate to get the three points on the board, but maybe deserved a wee rub of the green for not giving up.”
You’ve lost a few leads this season, but you’ve come back three times today and shown some guts as well….
“Yes, we had to do it. Otherwise you end up in that wee rut don’t you, because you keep conceding all the time. But listen, the boys were excellent. We had a tough game on Wednesday at Celtic and it took a lot out of us as we were just chasing shadows most of the time. So it was good to get the three points.”
For once you weren’t involved in the thick of it at the end there….
“I was choking to!, but I had already been booked and knew that I’d be off. It’s just a bit of madness, but you don’t mind that. I think a couple of punches have maybe been thrown, I’m not sure as I didn’t see much as I was just trying to get the boys out of the road for a change.”
Did Ioannis get sent off for manhandling the referee?
“Who, Skondras? No, I think that he’s been sent off for throwing a punch the referee said to me. I’m sure the other fella has punched him as well, but I’ll have to see it back, it just all kicked off.”
You just have to keep your hands to yourself?
“Aye, I was just trying to keep to myself, but it was all going a bit crazy and I had already been booked, so I can’t get involved too much.”
What was it that triggered it all off? It seemed to be after the initial challenge.
“The two of them had been at it all day, the left back and Ioannis. I don’t know if they know each other from somewhere else. But it was good to watch on the pitch, but not when it goes over the score like that.”
As you said, it’s good to come out on top after having your share of disappointments.
“Honestly, when it went to two each I thought here we go again. Somehow we’ve managed to nick it and get the three points.”
Still, the keeper had to save you right at the end, didn’t he?
“Yes, big Woodsy is excellent, he’s a top, top goal keeper. And when you see it back, it’s an even better save. His reactions are tremendous.”
Does it bother you, that some people will look at what happened at Tynecastle a couple of weeks ago and the scrap today, and say that Hamilton are a physical team, a dirty team. Does it bother you at all?
“No, not really, because at the Hearts, Hearts gave away more fouls and more bookings I think. For the fracas at the side, it was McPhee that grabbed my arm and fell, trying to get me sent off. We were innocent on the day up there. Today it was more 50/50 in the way that it’s kicked off, and if the teams done something wrong you can put your hands up, but I think that the two of them were at it out there.”
You don’t mind that though?
“I don’t mind a bit of needle and that, but obviously I don’t want to punch people. You don’t want to get a reputation like that. You want to get stuck in and let them know that they’re in a game. That’s the way that you need to play in this league.”
When something like that kicks off, in some ways, you want to see players back up their team mates don’t you?
“Of course you do. You need to get right in there. They flew in, we flew in. You don’t want to leave your mate alone, and if I hadn’t been booked I’d probably have been in the thick of it but used my brain for once.”
It’s a big win. That’s you six points clear of them now.
“Yes, it is. To be fair to them, they knock the ball about well and they’re a right good side on the evidence of the first half. It was a massive three points, especially with it being at home.”
Do you think it’s going to be as tight at the bottom come the end of the season, in terms of all the teams being so close to each other?
“I think so, because when we went on that decent run there, we never really got anywhere, and I think that’s what you’re seeing in the league. Teams are doing well but when you look at the table, there’s only three and six points between everyone. Look at Motherwell, everyone was raving about them, but they’re not really too far ahead either. So, that just shows you how tight the league is.”
How did it feel to have Ali back beside you in midfield?
“Och, I’ve missed my wee sidekick. No offence to the other boys, but he’s my favourite and I want him back in.”