Hibs boss Neil Lennon insists he had to gamble against Ross County on Saturday – and will do so again before the end of the season with so much at stake for the Easter Road club.
As he watched his side trail to a first-half goal from Staggies striker Billy Mckay, Lennon made the bold move of replacing defender Efe Ambrose and playmaker Scott Allan with Danny Swanson and Oli Shaw respectively with only 19 minutes remaining.
It paid off as the substitutes and Martin Boyle combined for 20-year-old Shaw to net a last-gasp equaliser to keep the Edinburgh side only three points behind Rangers and Aberdeen in the race for second place in the Premiership table.
He revealed: “I felt we needed to freshen things up and we gambled a little bit. But, at this stage of the season, you have to go for it. We didn’t know how the other results were going but obviously we didn’t want to lose our game.
“We’d made things difficult for ourselves by giving away a poor goal. What we did was give them encouragement to stay in the game having had clear-cut chances, especially in the first half.
“It was total domination from us, there was only one team trying to win it and I was disappointed we didn’t get a goal early in the second half. You start to think ‘is it going to be our day?’ but it was a great finish from Oli and a great ball from Danny.
“They can be happy with their contribution but I wasn’t happy with the way we approached the game in the first half. The pitch was difficult, but that’s not an excuse.”
However, amid his disappointment, Lennon admitted there were positives to take as Hibs clocked up a ninth game without loss, maintaining their momentum as they go into the tough post-split programme.
He said: “I was pleased we are showing great character at this stage of the season. We are three points off second place which is fantastic and now we have five cup finals to look forward to.”
Meanwhile, Lennon has hailed news that season ticket sales have now reached 9500, up 27 per cent on the equivalent figure this time last year and more than double that of the previous season.
He said: “The support, both home and away, has been excellent this season. I don’t like the word ‘potential’ but everyone can see what the club is capable of achieving, both on and off the park.
“We can’t be the team we want to be without the backing of the support, and it’s great that so many have signed up for a season ticket.” already. It’s going to be an exciting end to this season, and hopefully supporters will be able to see us build on that next year.”