Hibs manager Pat Fenlon today revealed that he is contemplating making changes after being left “disgusted” by a second-half collapse which saw the Easter Road side surrender a two-goal lead against Motherwell as they slumped to their fourth defeat in five games.
Eoin Doyle appeared to have put the Capital outfit on the path to victory – and a return to second place in the SPL table – with goals either side of half-time but a double from Jamie Murphy and a late strike by substitute Bob McHugh left both Fenlon and the home fans stunned.
Accusing his players of having simply stopped playing when Doyle put them two goals up nine minutes after the interval, Fenlon said: “I think we thought we had won the game when we scored the second goal. We never got hold of the ball after that, we just got deeper and deeper into our own half.”
Despite recent results, Hibs remain in fourth place, just three points behind Motherwell, who leapfrogged Inverness Caley to move second behind Celtic, but now Fenlon intends to make moves to kick-start a season which has stalled somewhat.
Injuries to captain James McPake, midfielder Gary Deegan and defender Tim Clancy have limited Fenlon’s options of late but those worries are easing with McPake starting against Motherwell after a six-match absence with Deegan playing the final 20 minutes on Saturday having missed nine matches.
Clancy, too, is expected to be back in action within a fortnight although McPake will be unavailable for Sunday’s clash with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park after picking up a late second yellow card on his return although Fenlon felt the big defender had been harshly treated when booked earlier in the match.
Fenlon, though, hinted that others may now come into contention with his patience sorely tested by the avoidable goals his side has lost in conceding three for the second match in succession.
He said: “When you lose football matches you are always disappointed but in fairness to the players we have been excellent this year. We just need to get going again. We are giving away too many sloppy goals. There’s one or two coming back and one or two looking to play so we might have to change the team around a little bit.”
Fenlon mounted a stout defence of his decision to replace top scorer Leigh Griffiths shortly after Murphy had halved Hibs’ advantage and then taking off the tiring Doyle. He said: “We didn’t take them off together. We were getting over-run so we took one off to try to get hold of the ball in the middle of the park but we did not do that.”
While some will question Hibs’ ability to get back on track, Doyle insisted morale remained high within the dressing-room. The Irish hitman said: “I wouldn’t say confidence is fragile. We know we’re a good side, we are still in a good position and with back-to-back wins we can be right back up there with the league so tight.”
Hibs’ Under-20 side will face Ross County at Ainslie Park tomorrow (kick-off 2pm).