Livingston boss Mark Burchill has urged his players to show more ‘devilment’ after the Lions suffered their sixth defeat in the Championship this season.
Hibs are the latest side to have left West Lothian with all three points after Liam Henderson’s exquisite free-kick five minutes after the restart won the match for Alan Stubbs’ men on Saturday.
But, despite Livi currently propping up the division with just a solitary point from their opening seven matches, there was enough evidence on show from the home side to suggest the club can start climbing the league table.
And, although the visitors were the most productive team in the opening exchanges of Saturday’s encounter – striker Dominique Malonga somehow hitting a post from little more than three yards out – it was Livi who carved out the more clear-cut chances with midfielder Scott Pittman forcing Hibs goalkeeper Mark Oxley into action before Liam Buchanan’s follow-up was cleared off the goal-line by Paul Hanlon.
Acknowledging it was a fantastic piece of skill that eventually settled the match in Hibs’ favour, Burchill admitted his players must find their own killer touch in front of goal if they are to start turning performances into points. “We need to find that we bit of devilment, especially in front of goal where Pitts [Pittman] gets his opportunity one on one. It’s a great bit of play but he hits the goalkeeper,” Burchill said. “If we had gone ahead, it would have changed everything.
“It was very tight and it’s taken a fantastic bit of quality to win the football match. Hibs caught us in the first 15 minutes and created a few problems. But after the first 15-20 minutes, I felt we matched them in almost everything if I am being honest.
“It’s really disappointing, it’s another defeat. Hibs are a good side but we had a good performance against Rangers last weekend as well but points are what matters. We’re bottom of the league and we need to start getting points. It is disappointing when you’re matching the best teams as I think Rangers will go on and win the league and Hibs will finish second. But the only way to get ourselves out of this situation is to keep working hard and hopefully it will turn.
“We had three or four of our normal starting 11 out but I thought Morgyn Neill did fantastically well against a very good front two.”
Burchill questioned referee Barry Cook’s decision to award the free-kick that Henderson subsequently scored from, Gary Glen having been penalised for a foul on Lewis Stevenson 20 yards from Livi No.1 Darren Jamieson’s goal. “The guys are telling me it wasn’t a free kick but what would you rather have had, Lewis Stevenson cutting in on his right foot and shooting from 25 yards or Henderson hitting a free-kick into you?” he said. “Maybe it wasn’t a foul but maybe if we’d been a wee bit cuter we don’t dive in as quickly.”
Striker Buchanan, a self-confessed Hibs fan, echoed his manager’s post-match assessment and believes he and his team-mates were unfortunate not to take a point for their endeavours.
“I think if you look at the game as a whole, we maybe deserved something from it,” he said. “We’ve been beaten by an excellent free-kick and although we’re disappointed to get beat, I think we matched a very good Hibs side. I think the free-kick was very soft but they pass the ball well and have players who can go and win them games, so I’m sure they’ll be up there come the end of the season.
“We’re bitterly disappointed being bottom of the league and with Saturday’s result, but I think there is a real hunger within the changing room that we want to get it right.”
Inverness are next to visit the newly-named Tony Macaroni Arena for tomorrow night’s League Cup third-round clash, but Buchanan already has one eye on Saturday’s bottom-of-the-league clash with former club Alloa, who are three points ahead in ninth place.
“It’s another real chance for us to get points on the board. Alloa will be a very well-organised side, so it won’t be an easy match. But we’ve got to take confidence from our performances at Ibrox and against Hibs at home,” Buchanan added.