Hibs’ top-six bid is slipping away

Terry Butcher barks orders from the touchline
Terry Butcher barks orders from the touchline
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Terry Butcher today admitted Hibs are beginning to run out of games in their chase for a top-six finish after a last-gasp John Sutton goal denied them the opportunity to pull level with St Johnstone.

Sutton’s header in added-on time earned Motherwell a draw but left Butcher’s side trailing Saints by two points. The Perth club have six games left before the Scottish Premiership split, while Hibs now only have five remaining.

Today the Hibs boss conceded that his side had passed up the chance to turn up the heat on Saints after a stirring comeback from 2-0 down saw goals from Jordon Forster, Michael Nelson and substitute Paul Heffernan leave the Fir Park outfit, who had struck twice through Sutton and Lionel Ainsworth, stunned.

However, it was the Capital players and fans who were left shocked as Motherwell took advantage of what Butcher described as “schoolboy defending” to grab that late equaliser and put a big dent in Hibs’ dream of finishing in the upper half of the table for the first time in four seasons.

Butcher said: “We should be sitting level with St Johnstone, no doubt about that. It was a tremendous comeback in the second half, we got ourselves into a right good position.

“I’d have given anything to be in that position after 25 minutes or so, but the final result does make it more difficult now.

“The games are starting to run out. We’ve got five and St Johnstone have a game in hand, but we still have to go up there.”

Butcher, however, insisted his players can’t rely on results elsewhere and also claimed the fact Hibs now have four away matches – starting with Wednesday night’s trip to his old club Inverness – might actually help his players who have struggled at home all season. He said: “We have to do the business ourselves.

“We can’t rely on anyone else, but I think the players might enjoy playing away from home because we will try to do to teams what they have done to us at Easter Road recently, coming to try to stop us from scoring and being able to catch us on the break.

“I think that will make it a bit easier to play away from home, but having said that, we still have to work our socks off and make sure we give ourselves the best possible chance. Until it is mathematically over, then we will keep on going – and going strongly.”

Meanwhile, Caley boss John Hughes was today considering appealing the red cards shown to Greg Tansey and Marley Watkins in yesterday’s 5-0 Scottish Cup defeat by Dundee United. As things stand, the pair would be banned for Wednesday’s game. An appeal would free them for the visit of Hibs, but if they were to lose then the pair would find themselves banned for Sunday’s League Cup final.