Hibs boss Neil Lennon demands nine-point haul before split

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Hibs head coach Neil Lennon has urged his players to take maximum points from their three remaining matches before the Premiership “split” to keep the heat on Rangers and Aberdeen in the race for second place.

The Easter Road side’s 1-1 draw with St Johnstone saw them lose ground on the Dons, who defeated Dundee but even so the Capital club are only six points adrift of Rangers following their defeat by Kilmarnock, the Ibrox club currently holding that runners-up spot behind runaway leaders Celtic.

Neil Lennon was delighted with his players' attitude during last Friday's draw with St Johnstone

Neil Lennon was delighted with his players' attitude during last Friday's draw with St Johnstone

Both Hibs and Aberdeen have a game in hand over Rangers giving Derek McInnes’ players the chance to leapfrog them before the split and Lennon’s side the opportunity to narrow the gap to just three points.

Hibs now face Partick Thistle, Hamilton and Ross County – three of the league’s bottom four clubs – with the games against the Jags and Accies at Easter Road before they travel to Dingwall to play the Staggies, who are battling to avoid automatic relegation.

Lennon admitted to being frustrated at having to settle for a draw at McDiarmid Park. However, given Hibs had played for 77 minutes a man short after goalkeeper Ofir Marciano was red-carded for handling the ball outside his penalty area, Lennon viewed it as a point gained rather than two dropped.

“I cannot speak highly enough of the players,” said Lennon, who claimed they’d been under “immense provocation” from “scandalous, border-line reckless challenges” from St Johnstone.

“It would have been good to see how we would have been with eleven men because we started the game on fire. But we looked strong and fit even when we were down to ten men on a really difficult, heavy pitch.

“The attitude of the players was fantastic, they really wanted it.

“It’s pity we did not the three points as we would have gone third but, the way things went against us, we have to be very satisifed with a point.

“Now we have three games coming up against teams in the bottom four and we have to ty to take maximum points to keep the pressure on the teams round about us.”