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Cup exit is our own fault, not the rulemakers, says Caley boss

Hearts 5 Inverness Caledonian Thistle 0

By Gavin McCafferty

Inverness manager John Robertson refused to pinpoint the unexplained punishment against Hearts as an excuse after his side crashed out of the Betfred Cup at Tynecastle.

Hearts won 5-0 to leapfrog the Highlanders at the top of Group C on goal difference and send Partick Thistle through as the fourth best runners-up at the expense of the visitors.

There was major surprise over the Scottish Professional Football League's decision to dock Hearts two points after they collected three against Cove Rangers while fielding an ineligible player following a mix-up over Andrew Irving's registration.

But - after arriving at Tynecastle knowing even a three-goal defeat would see them qualify - Robertson only blamed his players' failure to deal with the four crosses which allowed Uche Ikpeazu and Steven Naismith to hit doubles.

Hearts' record goalscorer said: "It's a different issue and it's a very, very easy excuse to make but we are out the cup, not because of an SPFL decision, but because we couldn't defend properly.

"We can't do anything about the decision. I felt our club had an issue that needed answering. They didn't want to pursue it. We don't know who made the decision, we don't know the reasons for that decision. Until somebody does that then it's pretty hard to decide whether it's a bitter pill to swallow or not.

"But I am not using it as an excuse because if my boys can't defend four balls into the box then you don't deserve to be in the next round of the cup.

"Had we gone through, I would have told you exactly what I think about the decision but I am not using it as an excuse."

Ikpeazu is becoming a Hearts fans' favourite following his summer move from Cambridge and boss Craig Levin said: "He's a handful, really strong.

"He's a wee bit erratic but in time he can become a real focal point for us."

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