Livingston captain Jason Talbot was adamant that Hibs were “there for the taking” after John McGlynn’s men came away from Easter Road in their Championship opener pointless.
Goals from Hibs’ Farid El Alagui and goalkeeper Mark Oxley – a freakish kick up field from his own penalty box catching out Darren Jamieson in the Livingston goal – was enough to give the hosts all three points despite a late rally from the Lions who reduced the deficit after the interval through Declan Gallagher’s effort on the hour.
It was the West Lothian outfit, however, who threatened to open their account first, Gallagher heading off the crossbar within the opening ten minutes before El Alagui and then Oxley appeared to have Hibs in control. In truth, the home side should have taken a greater margin of lead into the half-time break as further opportunities were spurned in front of Jamieson’s goal.
But as Talbot, 28, alluded to, it was the visitors who offered a far greater threat in the final third in the second 45 as Hibs lacked the same intensity in their play that had threatened to overrun Livingston for large parts of the first half.
“We’re disappointed as a group because they were there for the taking,” Talbot said. “I thought the lads did exceptionally well and overall we are disappointed with the result. There’s a lot of confidence and belief and lot of positives to come from the game though. I thought we dominated the vast majority of the game – the first 15 minutes especially. Second half I thought we were fitter than them, stronger than them and caused them one or two problems.
“You know what it’s like when a team scores a goal – you get that confidence boost. We tried to sit in and gather our thoughts after they had got their opener and then the second goal came which was a bit of a fluke. But apart from that, we gathered our momentum again and started playing.”
Talbot stressed he and his team-mates should now approach match days with little fear after running one of the league title favourites close away from the Energy Assets Arena. And with a home encounter against Cowdenbeath now beckoning for McGlynn’s players this weekend, the defender insists three points is imperative. He said: “If we take the belief and the confidence we have from Saturday and we go and apply ourselves next week, three points is our main aim and to get back up that table.
“Everyone knows the three teams (Hibs, Hearts and Rangers) that are in here are all trying to fight against each other to get that top spot. So it’s up to teams like ourselves, the smaller ones as we’re called, to take points off them. All the pressure is on them and none of it on us.”
McGlynn, himself, echoed his captain’s assessment of a match he feels his side more than matched their opponents.
“We feel we did enough to get a point out of the match,” the former Hearts manager said. “If you look at the goals we lost, one is a cheap header from a corner kick and then the second goal is just a total fluke – there’s no way their goalkeeper meant that. But before that we hit the bar at 0-0 and I thought we had two or three really good moves. But the second half we composed ourselves. Did the place go quiet? Did Hibs get nervous? Yes course they did. It was the kind of situation we wanted to be in in the first place - it’s thin margins.
“It was quite a big step up for some of our lads to come into this environment as they’ve all come from different levels. It was a test of character but I thought we came through it.”
On his goalkeeper being left red-faced by his opposite number’s audacious goal, McGlynn added: “Darren’s disappointed because at the end of the day that fluky goal is the difference between us getting a point and not. He’s just got to learn from it and move on. He’s a young man at 22 so he’s just got to swallow it and kick on.”