'We can't give up' - Hibs boss on frustration, anger and lingering hopes of top-six place

Grim viewing for the Hibs bench as defeat plunges them further into cricis.Grim viewing for the Hibs bench as defeat plunges them further into cricis.
Grim viewing for the Hibs bench as defeat plunges them further into cricis.
Motherwell fightback at Dundee keeps Hibees alive - just - in pursuit of target

Hibs boss Nick Montgomery insists his embattled troops cannot afford to give up hope of a miraculous leap into the top six – despite suffering a dispiriting and damaging home defeat that leaves their fate firmly in the hands of others. A 2-1 home loss to lowly St Johnstone pushed Hibs to the brink of elimination in the race for post-split relevance, with its attendant potential for European qualification, with only Motherwell’s injury-time winner at Dens Park keeping them in touch.

Speaking after a combination of results that leaves his team still just one point behind Dundee, due to host Rangers in midweek before travelling to Pittodrie next weekend, Montgomery insisted his focus had already switched to Saturday’s away game against Motherwell – their final chance to secure points before the Scottish Premiership divides down the middle. But he admitted that frustration and anger were the overriding emotions of an afternoon that saw his team booed at full-time.

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"We have to be positive, and we have to believe that results go our way,” said Montgomery. “All we can do is go to Motherwell next weekend knowing that we have to win the game to give ourselves a chance of still making the top six.

“Until that's mathematically impossible, we have to believe. We've been on a good run. We lost at Rangers last week and I'm really disappointed to lose that one today because we needed to win. We could have put big pressure on the teams above us but it's out of our hands now.”

Addressing the nature of the defeat, including losing a winner to a simple corner kick routine, Monty said: "It was a game we knew we needed to win. We expected three points, and everybody expected three points but that's football, it's a cruel game.

“We had 72 per cent possession and we lose to a team that had two shots on target. That's football at times. We have to accept that's not good enough, two lapses of concentration in a game where you need maximum concentration. We had enough chances to win the game.

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“We got caught with a long ball down the side and we have to defend that better. It's their first shot on target and we go a goal down. It's really frustrating. We get back into the game from conceding like we did and yeah, I can understand the frustrations. I'm frustrated, the players are frustrated - it's a game without doubt we should have won. We have to be better in both boxes and that's what let us down today.

“We don't want to be relying on other people. There are two teams we could have caught if we got maximum points. Now it's one team and we have to rely on their results. It's not ideal. But until it's impossible we have we have to believe and prepare and get three points next week. There have been a lot of changes and challenges this season, but I have never given up hope of finishing in the top six.”