Neil Lennon today hailed his Hibs side as “magnificent” after they defeated Dundee United 1-0 to open up a ten-point lead on their biggest Championship rivals.
Jason Cummings’ 20th goal of the season – a stunning first-half volley – was enough to end United’s unbeaten record at Tannadice, although the striker later picked up two yellow cards in the space of three minutes. United were already down to ten men, Lewis Toshney sent off for two late challenges on Andrew Shinnie.
“We were outstanding,” claimed Lennon. “I thought the scoreline flattered Dundee United. My team played really strongly first half, a bit more composure from Martin Boyle makes it 2-0 and then Cammy Bell makes a good save from Andrew Shinnie.
“I can’t remember my goalkeeper having a lot to do. United have been unbeaten at home all season so it speaks volumes – they were really magnificent.”
And, although he insisted 21-year-old Cummings, who misses next weekend’s match at home to Dumbarton, “had to learn”, Lennon was more than a touch forgiving as he pointed out the striker had won the game for Hibs.
He said: “Jason was stupid and he knows that. He’s feeling remorseful – but he’s won me the game.
“He has gallusness about him and he has to learn because he’s let his mates down for the last ten or 15 minutes while we were in complete control of the game.
“He’s a young lad and he has to learn, but he’s a great talent. He’s a big-game player. He can be happy with his contribution but you can still have a go at him.
“We have all done stupid things over the years, Martin O’Neill would be the first to berate you for it because you’re no good to anyone in the bath.
“So he’s got to learn and do it quickly, but he’s a real player and has been priceless to me all season.”
Having been booked for a display of petulance after being pulled up for offside, Cummings used a hand just three minutes later to divert skipper David Gray’s cross beyond Bell with Lennon admitting he initially thought it was a good goal.
But he accepted referee Don Robertson had called it right and agreed the official had again been spot-on in sending him to the stand as the game moved into four minutes of added time.
He said: “When I got sent off, it was for encroaching too many times – the technical areas are not big enough for me!
“It’s called emotion, pressure and it’s called playing the game on the edge. I have no complaints about it.”
Lennon revealed he believed Hibs hadn’t been shown the respect they’ve been due by some within the game.
He said: “A few people in the game have said we have been on a bad run, but we’re ten points clear of our biggest rivals and we’re in a Scottish Cup semi-final.”
And Lennon admitted the importance of this win – which also moved them nine points clear of Falkirk – couldn’t be underplayed, saying: “I played it down during the week but we knew how massive it was psychologically to win here tonight and we’ve done it.”