Football

Sam Nicholson left with puncture marks and needing stitches in his face after Jason Talbot challenge

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Hearts vs Livingston is not exactly a grudge match in Scottish football, but you could be forgiven for thinking it was upon seeing one particularly shocking incident in the Scottish Championship clash on Saturday.

Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson had to be substituted after a high challenge left him needing stitches and sporting "three or four puncture marks" in his face.

Livingstone captain Jason Talbot was the offending party and the left-back, incredibly, only got a yellow card after an attempt to win the ball resulted in him only managing to plant his boot right into the face of Nicholson.

Photographer Sean Kerr was in place to capture a perfect snap of the gruesome challenge, getting the exact moment Talbot's studs made contact with Nicholson's noggin. He posted the snap via his Twitter account

Unbelievably, Talbot was allowed to continue in the match as referee Brian Colvin deemed the challenge as only worthy of a caution. Meanwhile, Hearts manager Robbie Neilson was hilariously understated about the challenge, claiming it "wasn't great" - you can say that again.

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"Sam is going to be OK, but he has three or four puncture marks on his face. It wasn’t a great tackle and I’ve let the referee know my views on it," he is quoted as telling reporters. Watch a video of the tackle here...

Talbot may have got away with what looked like a certain red card, but he could make no difference to the eventual result, as the Championship leaders ran out 3-2 winners. Hearts are now 19 points clear at the top of the table, while Livingston are rooted to the bottom.

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