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Friday, January 4, 2013
Stevenson defends 'shocking' tackle

ESPN staff

Hearts midfielder Ryan Stevenson has defended his tackle on James McPake during the first half of the goallessEdinburgh derby on Thursday night, insisting the ball was there to be won.

The challenge left McPake with a gash on his leg and was criticised by Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon.

He said: "It's a shocking tackle. He had a look first before he left the ground. We're disappointed with that. He has a bad gash, James. There could have been a bit of damage there, but he's not too bad." But Stevenson has replied on Hearts' official website claiming the ball was there to be won.

"It was 50-50 and the ball was there to be won," Stevenson told the club's official website. "I went in hard but in my mind I went in fair too. It may not look great in slow motion but my only intention was to win the ball, nothing else.

"Some challenges have been highlighted and others forgotten about but that's part and parcel of football."

There is still a chance he could be punished retrospectively by the Scottish Football Association after referee Willie Collum failed to take action during the game.

Stevenson also claimed Hearts were unlucky not to win the game, adding: "I thought we were desperately unlucky. I felt we put in a good shift, a performance that was worthy of a win. "It was a typical Edinburgh derby with hard tackles going in all over the pitch from both sets of players. Some challenges have been highlighted and others forgotten about but that's part and parcel of football.

"I'll always give 100% every week in a Hearts shirt, be it tracking back to defend, bursting forward to shoot or trying to win possession."

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