Neilson was left dismayed over Alexandro Bernabei’s challenge on Nathaniel Atikinson during his side’s 3-1 loss at Parkhead in the Premiership on Wednesday night. He felt it warranted a red card but called the incident a “shambles” with Alan Muir not asked to take a second look despite the VAR check.
“Usually when you come to Parkhead, you need decapitation before they get a red card against them," he said. “It wasn’t to be today. It was nearly a leg off. A really bad tackle and the referee never booked him, and it went to VAR.”
Conroy, speaking to Grosvenor Sport, labelled Neilson's comments “rich" and noted the Hearts boss “was hardly a shrinking violet when he played”.
“Maybe he’s trying to noise things up ahead of the Cup game between Hearts and Celtic this weekend and maybe put a seed of doubt in the ref’s mind,” he said. Many managers have tried this sort of tactic.
“I can understand why some people thought it might be a red card – but it certainly wasn’t akin to a decapitation. I think a yellow would have been the right call because I don’t think there was excessive force and I don’t think Bernabei was endangering Atkinson.
“It wasn’t an innocent challenge, but he was hardly trying to maim him either. VAR took a look and decided it wasn’t red, and they can’t advocate a yellow."