HIBS boss Pat Fenlon today heaped praise on his Easter Road stars after they racked up their biggest win of the season, crushing Motherwell 4-0, to reclaim second place in the SPL table
The Edinburgh club bounced back from defeat by Ross County to deliver a stunning blow to the side which finished third last season, the 90 minutes at Fir Park crammed with controversy as David Wotherspoon fired them into the lead against the run of play.
Stuart McCall’s outfit had a goal disallowed when assistant referee Francis Andrews failed to spot Stevie Hammell’s powerful header had cross the line before Hibs goalkeeper Ben Williams clawed it before Hibs scored three more after the interval.
Leigh Griffiths made it nine for the season as he scored twice from the penalty spot, Motherwell again left raging as they insisted Hammell’s challenge on Wotherspoon which resulted in the second of those decisions had taken place outside the box.
Between Griffiths’ goals Motherwell striker Michael Higdon lashed a spot-kick over Williams bar and deep into injury time Hibs substitute Danny Handling completed the scoring with his first goal for the club.
But today Fenlon insisted that if his players had enjoyed a bit of luck they’d fully deserved it. The Hibs manager, who had admitted he wanted his players to tighten up at the back after conceding 11 of the 15 goals lost this season “on the road,” said: “If we have got some decisions then that’s great, we do not always get them.
“I am pleased to have come here and won this game. People questioned our defensive capabilities but I thought we stood up to be counted.”
While the controversial decisions will undoubtedly take some of the focus off the final outcome, Fenlon, while conceding his side had enjoyed a bit of luck along the way, was unconcerned.
He said: “I am delighted with them and I have told them that. The players know they have come away and put in a real hard shift. They deserve tremendous credit from me, which they got after the game.”
The win means Hibs have taken 18 points from their opening 11 games, already more than half the total they achieved last season, but Fenlon insisted it was far too soon to talk about the possibility of going from second bottom to second top.
He said: “It’s too early to be thinking about that. But it’s lovely and great for the supporters as well. We’ll just concentrate on the next game.”
McCall, naturally, was less happy, claiming Andrews had been adamant that Hammell’s header hadn’t crossed the line but had agreed the challenge on Wotherspoon which resulted in Hibs’ second penalty was outside the area.
He said: “The key moments have gone against us. We scored a goal which went a foot and a half over the line and the assistant was adamant it did not cross it and then there’s a foul outside the penalty area and the same linesman says it was a yard-and-a-half outside.”
McCall admitted, though, that his side had paid the penalty for not taking their chances, Motherwell having now lost their last four matches, failing to score in any of them.
He said: “How we played 90 minutes and didn’t score I do not know.”