HIBERNIAN manager Neil Lennon last night branded the Hearts supporter who struck him in the face with a coin at the end of an explosive Edinburgh derby match at Tynecastle as a “coward”.

Lennon also condemned the Hibs fan who hit Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal as he retrieved the ball from in front of the away stand and called for tougher punishments for acts of hooliganism to be introduced.

The Northern Irishman, who was assaulted at Tynecastle back in 2011 when he was Celtic manager, was clearly shaken when he spoke to the media at the end of a game that finished 0-0.

“It’s disgraceful,” he said. “I don’t blame the club, you can’t legislate for the hatred of some individuals or the badness. What possesses people to throw things on the football pitch I will never know.

“I believe Zlamal was hit as well and it’s just ridiculous. We do not defend that behaviour from our supporters and hopefully both individuals will be singled out.

“I would like to meet the individual who threw a coin at me someday because I am not happy about it at all. It’s just badness, badness.

“The referee might have had some missiles thrown at him as well. It’s just blackening the name of both clubs and of Scottish football. This should be a showpiece game.

“It was feisty, it was intimidating, everything you would expect. But if people can’t behave themselves they should be singled out and embarrassed and humiliated.

“It can’t go on. I don’t know if it’s a stewarding problem or a police problem. How can you legislate for some mindless idiots in a crowd of 19,000?

“We are talking about incidents like this when we should be talking about the game. I’m sick of it. Really sick of it to tell the truth.”

Lennon added: “The coin could have hit some kid and could throw it the wrong way. In the end it was a great shot. But it was just mindless, I am lost for words at times.

“He’ll be full of regret like John Wilson [attacker in 2011] saying, ‘I’m really sorry, blah, blah, blah’. It’s just not good enough.”

“I don’t blame the club. What can you do about people throwing things? They are cowards at the end of the day.

“There is no train of thought other than wanting to hurt somebody. It could have been me, it could have been Garry Parker [assistant] or the fourth official, it could have been any of us. I am really angry about it. I am fizzing about it.”

On the Zlamal incident, he said: “It is unacceptable and as a club we can only apologise and hopefully we will deal with the individual.

“This is a guy just doing his job, providing entertainment and the last thing he needs is someone attacking him. No physical contact is acceptable.

“I don’t know if he is shaken up or hurt but we as a club will hopefully find the perpetrator and deal with him and humiliate him. He is blackening the name of our club and I don’t want that.

“Maybe we need stricter or tougher punishments. I don’t know what you would call that. Is it assault? Maybe a custodial sentence would do them nicely.

“I would go and visit him in jail. I would like to meet him and see what they have got to say for themselves. I wouldn’t say anything to him, but I would like to meet him!

“It was totally uncalled for. It was cowardly and I have to think of my safety. My jaw is really throbbing.

“At the time you are stunned and then the adrenaline keeps going, but now that it has settled down, it is really sore.

“You don’t see it coming you just get the dolt from nowhere. We saw a linesman getting hit by a coin a few weeks ago and it is just totally unacceptable and it has to stop.”

Lennon had gestured to opposition supporters after a Clevid Dikamona goal had been ruled off in injury-time. But he said. “Well considering what comes my way . . .

‘You know what? It was actually really light-hearted the whole game, there was no real malice. There was a bit of banter pitchside.

“Some heavy stuff, but nothing over the top. Where that comes from I don’t know. Their mode of thinking will be ‘he brings it on himself.’

“Sorry. But that does not wash and that’s why I am angry. And it could have been a lot worse. Why can’t individuals just behave themselves at a football game?”