Pat Fenlon today blamed sloppy defending for Hibs’ defeat by Ross County – but claimed the Easter Road club had done enough to win the game.
The Edinburgh outfit were edged out in a five-goal thriller in Dingwall as substitute Colin McMenamin’s late goal steered the Staggies to their first home win of the season, the final scoreline of 3-2 seeing Hibs slip from second to fourth in the SPL table.
Leigh Griffiths had put Fenlon’s side ahead in only the sixth minute but Stuart Kettlewell and Iain Vigurs hit back for Derek Adams’ team before Hibs skipper James McPake hooked home an equaliser as a pulsating first half drew to a close.
Both sides had chances after the interval but the game appeared to be heading for a draw until a Scott Boyd free-kick, delivered from well inside his own half, was flicked on by Gary Glen for McMenamin to end County’s run of three successive defeats.
Although former Hibs No 2 Adams insisted his side were well worth their win, claiming anyone who thought otherwise would “probably come from Edinburgh,” Fenlon begged to offer a different opinion, revealing he’d been left “scratching his head” as to how Hibs had contrived to lose the game.
The Easter Road boss, though, answered his own question in saying: “We gave away sloppy goals again and that’s disappointing. We know we have to be better as a team when we are defending, that’s for certain.
“We gave away too many free-kicks and Ross County got good delivery. We did not deal with long balls into our box and they have a lot of big players.”
After an indifferent first half by his team, Fenlon could, however, point to a much improved performance after the interval and to a number of opportunities, most notably a powerful shot by Paul Hanlon which was beaten away by County goalkeeper Michael Fraser, a Leigh Griffiths header which looped just over and then a shot by the striker which clipped the crossbar, all before McMenamin’s telling contribution.
Meanwhile, Hibs’ Under-20 side powered into the fourth round of the Scottish Youth Cup with a 13-1 demolition of Fort William. Danny Handling and Ross Caldwell, who had been among the substitutes in Dingwall 24 hours earlier, both scored twice as did Dean Horribine, Bradley Donaldson and James Beaton, with Alex Harris, David Paul and Jay Doyle claiming a goal apiece. They now face Hearts in the “mini-derby” at Newtongrange’s New Victoria Park on Wednesday (kick-off 7pm).