Anthony Stokes has admitted Hibs were happy to hold on for a draw against Motherwell after throwing away a two-goal lead.
A double from the striker, a first-half penalty followed by an opportunistic shot minutes after the interval, appeared to have put the Easter Road side on the road to victory but, to the fury of boss Neil Lennon, they allowed Motherwell back into the game with Louis Moult scoring twice to leave Hibs with a third successive draw in the Premiership.
Conceding that he and his team-mates had simply lost their grip on the game, Stokes said: “We put ourselves in a great position but we stopped playing and, at he end, we were probably happy just to hold on.
“We’re disappointed and frustrated because it’s probably been the case over the last few games, we’ve been playing well and not getting the three points.
“Even when it went 2-0 there are still 25 minutes to go at least. If you want to kill it off you needed to get to 3-0, otherwise they score and pick up the momentum. That’s what happens sometimes. I don’t think we dealt with it very well.”
Stokes admitted Lennon’s players need to learn how to close out games when they find themselves in a winning position, but insisted the Easter Road squad has what it takes, saying: “The quality is there.
“If you look back at the last three games, we’ve dominated them. For 60 minutes we dominated Motherwell, It’s probably just a bit of inexperience here and there. I don’t know, it can happen sometimes. You lose grip of a game, it’s just small details.
“I think towards the end we could have played a few more channel balls, played them up the pitch because we were dropping deeper and deeper. But it’s easier said after the game. In the heat of the moment, when they had their tails up and we were probably lucky not to concede another one.
“We pressed a bit and picked up, but after they got their first goal there was a spell when we just did not cope with the game.”
And that, declared Stokes, was where Lennon’s players need to step up, saying: “I think it’s everyone’s responsibility. Everyone on the pitch has to respond to how the game is going.
“It’s not always going to be free-flowing football where we can pop it about. If you’ve watched us from the start of the season that’s what we want to do. We want to get teams hemmed in and then try to break they down with our football.
“But we just need to scrap it out a bit better, maybe be a bit more physical. Not nastier, just seeing out games playing dogged football – put it in the corner sometimes, just get us up the pitch.” Another big Easter Road crowd of 17,335 departed unhappy just as they had after Hibs previous home game, an even more disappointing defeat by Hamilton and, agreed Stokes, they rightly hold big expectations.
He said: “We’ve come up as a newly-promoted team and drawn the last three games. But look at the squad, the players the manager has brought in. That has created expectation off the back of winning silverware last season and the Scottish Cup the year before.
“The club is definitely on the up. It’s down to us to entertain the fans, put points on the board and win games.”