Hibs boss would love to wrap up title before cup semi-final

Neil Lennon is keen to extend the gap at the top of the table further tonight
Neil Lennon is keen to extend the gap at the top of the table further tonight
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Neil Lennon has admitted he’d love to see Hibs wrap up the Championship title before they continue their bid to retain the Scottish Cup with a semi-final against Aberdeen on April 22.

The Easter Road club go into tonight’s league match with Morton having opened up a ten-point gap on both the Cappielow outfit and Falkirk, leaving the head coach to concede another win would require the “mother of all collapses” to give rival teams even a sniff of overhauling them.

With four league games before Hibs face the Dons, Lennon was asked if he’d like to see the title race over before heading for Hampden.

He said: “That would be ideal, but nothing is ever given to you.

“We’ll have to play well and win games consistently to have that luxury. But the answer to that would be ‘yes’.”

Hibs have remained firm favourites to claim the one automatic promotion place and end three seasons in the second tier of Scottish football. While admitting there have been “a few bumps along the way”, Lennon insisted his players have earned the right to be within touching distance of that target.

However, he did admit the Championship has been tougher than he’d anticipated but claimed he’d enjoyed the pressure and the challenge despite the frustrations he’s endured at times.

He said: “The expectation was that we would skoosh this league by twenty points – that was never going to be the case. We are in double digits now in terms of a lead and that is pretty healthy and speaks volumes for the way we have played. In games where we haven’t been at their best, we have ground out results and sometimes that is what you need.

“There is a tradition here for Hibs to play good football all the time and I want that myself. But, if you look at last season, we lost eight games – that’s quarter of the season – playing that type of football. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. We have to find a balance in mixing it up at times.”

Although Hibs have suffered a few eyebrow raising results, Lennon admitted he’d been particularly satisfied at the way in which his players had handled the big games, something he wants to see happen in every match.

He said: “Even when we conceded against Falkirk so soon after scoring there was no real panic. They still believed they could get the win when a draw would have been fine. There is still a level of inconsistency and that might take time to crack, but certainly in the big games they have done well.”