Head coach Neil Lennon says he can’t be too critical of his Hibs team despite failing to defeat ten-man Falkirk at Easter Road.
The Hibees drew 1-1 with the Bairns – who had Tom Taiwo sent off after 25 minutes – in Saturday’s Ladbrokes Championship encounter and had to equalise through Paul Hanlon after John Baird had given the visitors a surprise lead.
Hibs had 20 attempts against Peter Houston’s men, but only five hit the target. Lennon bemoaned that fact, conceding a little more composure might have brought greater reward, but he insisted he couldn’t find fault with is players, adamant they are “giving me everything” and describing their performances in recent matches as “magnificent”.
He said: “For me our performance deserved better but sometimes you don’t get what you deserve in football. I was pretty pleased with our display, [but] the fact we had 20 shots and only five on target shows our conversion rate could have been better.
“But we’d scored pretty heavily in our three previous games, getting eight goals, so I can’t pinpoint that as a problem. I’d be more worried if there was a lack of chances created. The final ball was missing at times, our crossing could have been better and we could have shown a bit more composure. However, our build up play looked strong, we were the dominant team but disappointed not to win the game.
“Having analysed the match, the players gave me everything. I cannot be too critical of them at the minute. Since our wee bad run they have bounced back magnificently, the performance levels, the quality of football is good. We will play worse and win.”
Lennon, pictured left, has already spoken of his players’ inability to cash in on the numerous corners and free-kicks which have come their way thanks to the fact that they have, in general, dominated matches, with many visiting teams content to get as many men behind the ball as possible in the hope of escaping Easter Road with a point while aiming to try to snatch victory on the counter-attack.
It’s a point underlined by the statistics from individual matches. Ayr United, in inflicting Hibs’ sole league defeat this season, only had 14 shots to Hibs’ three when they left Easter Road with a shock 2-1 win in September, while Dundee United only registered six shots compared to Hibs’ 11 in the 1-1 draw between the sides later that month,
The Northern Irishman conceded it’s an area for improvement, that failure to make the most of such moments leaving his side vulnerable to a sucker punch as happened again at the weekend when Baird clipped home from close range after Hibs failed to deal with a knock-down from a corner kick.
He said: “We had 18 corners against Falkirk. Some of our deliveries were very good, but we need to make more of our set plays at times, getting heads in there. Falkirk defended really well, they threw bodies on the line to block shots, we’d a goal disallowed but I have to think we played well. I had plenty of days like that with Celtic when you just couldn’t get the game over the line.
“There was only one team trying to win the game and that was us and in terms of attacking play we tried to win it. We were in the ascendancy for long periods. We were strong, we had chances and if there is one criticism it’s that we did not put them away.”
Lennon, though, is convinced everything will click into place and that an opposing team will soon be left reeling, suggesting that soon enough Hibs will clock up a big score against one of their league rivals.
He said: “I have to think someone is going to suffer. I believe we’ve looked pretty impressive. There hasn’t been a game where we’ve come off and I’ve thought we’ve been lucky, that we’ve had our backs to the wall or have had to ride our luck. In all the games we have been the dominant team, defensively we’ve been excellent, our football has been very good.
“There’s a good belief among the players at the minute. Saturday could be viewed as two points dropped or one gained. We are still top of the league but no-one is going to give us it - we have to earn it.”