Hamilton striker denies throwing punch

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The Independent Football

Hamilton striker Leon Knight admits he pushed but insists he did not punch Suso Santana in the incident believed to have sparked the tunnel brawl after the Clydesdale Bank Premier League game against Hearts.

Knight and Suso were both sent off for violent conduct in the aftermath of Sunday's match at New Douglas Park, with further post-match reds shown to Jambos midfielder Ian Black and masseur Alan Robson.

Knight, 27, claims Suso "clumped" him around the back of the head as he entered the tunnel and admitted he retaliated by pushing the Hearts winger, "brushing his chin".

Diminutive forward Knight, who has a third dan black belt in karate, denied lashing out at Christian Nade, telling the Scottish Sun: "It would be like an ant attacking a bear.

"Have you seen him? It would be like suicide!"

Unused Accies substitute Knight admitted he delayed returning a throw-in to Hearts shortly before the final whistle of a game in which they were 2-1 down.

Despite being reduced to nine men following the on-field dismissals of captain Michael Stewart and defender Ismael Bouzid, the visitors were chasing an equaliser.

Knight believes his delaying tactics at that juncture may be what angered Suso.

But he claims he was in the Hamilton changing room by the time the tunnel brawl began in earnest.

He added: "I came back out and as I did I saw something like 17 men going crazy.

"What I saw was, well, a bunch of handbags. The only blow that landed was Suso's slap on the back of my head.

"If I'd wanted to really do something to him it would have been done.

"It wouldn't have just been handbags or pushing, let me tell you.

"You're told to only use karate to defend yourself and at the moment he hit me, self-defence was on my mind."

Knight's reputation preceded him at Hamilton after he was sacked last season by Rushden and Diamonds for breaches of his contract. He also had high-profile bust-ups at Brighton and Swansea with managers Mark McGhee and Kenny Jackett, respectively.

He said: "I know what some people might be thinking, but my conscience is clear.

"I couldn't believe I got a red card. I'm upset about that. I spoke to the manager not long after it and he told me not to worry. Everybody knows it wasn't my fault."

Meanwhile, Hamilton captain Alex Neil has also hit back at Hearts boss Csaba Laszlo' claim that he cheated to get Stewart sent off.

Laszlo accused Neil of play-acting after tussling with his opposite number in the 48th minute at New Douglas Park.

Neil said: "That's nonsense. They're looking for someone to blame."

Stewart has appealed his dismissal to the Scottish Football Association, who are set to scrap an investigation into Sunday's tunnel bust-up after being satisfied at the thoroughness of referee David Somers' report.