Having watched Neil Lennon being put through an emotional wringer throughout the previous week, Jamie Maclaren admitted he and his team-mates wanted to, at least, put a bit of a smile back on their gaffer’s face.
From witnessing the tragic events which enveloped his old club Leicester City to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Hearts boss Craig Levein, a former manager of the Foxes, and his assistant Garry Parker, a team-mate at the then Filbert Street, to being struck by a coin at Tynecastle and then having to defend himself against accusations from both within and outwith the game, Lennon had endured a testing seven days.
A rare win against St Johnstone would have helped lift Lennon’s spirits but instead the Hibs head coach was subjected to what his assistant Garry Parker later described as probably the poorest home performance the management duo had witnessed since taking over at Easter Road.
Hibs were a pale shadow of the vibrant, free-flowing team they have become over the past few seasons, virtually unrecognisable as they turned in a totally insipid display and, lacking the physical presence of the suspended Florian Kamberi, they toiled to create clear-cut chances.
Following the highly charged atmosphere of the first Edinburgh derby of the season this was always going to be a more sedate affair but few could have predicted just how tepid the Capital side were.
The home support sat in virtual silence throughout, rarely given the opportunity to create that raucous backdrop which can help drive a team on, deprived of even a point as Saints defender Joe Shaugnessy claimed a last-gasp winner to extend the Perth club’s unbeaten run against Hibs in the league to seven games.
Maclaren, who had started his first match in two months following a back injury, said: “Yes It was nice to be out there but it was very frustrating and disappointing from start to finish. We didn’t really have much conviction which isn’t like us.
“It had nothing to do with Wednesday night, that’s blown over. I thought myself coming in, Emerson [Hyndman] and Daryl [Horgan] who haven’t played in a while, you expected better from us and we could have put in a better performance.”
Shaugnessy’s header from David Wotherspoon’s free-kick ended Hibs’ unbeaten league run at home which stretched back to last December – before Australian striker had Maclaren arrived in Edinburgh – but nevertheless, he was acutely aware of that record.
He said: “Any home game you want to win, we know how good we are at home so that is very disappointing.
“When you don’t create too many clear-cut chances at home when you get into such good positions is very frustrating. We all hold our hands up and like we said in the dressing-room we knew we weren’t good enough – but if you can’t win it, don’t lose it.
“That was the message with about ten minutes to go. I thought we were pushing and going to get something. I had a chance that just went over the bar. I felt we were pushing for something but ultimately we left ourselves open at the back.
“When you concede a free-kick we shouldn’t be conceding from that. We can all look in the mirror and say that wasn’t good enough and we really need to pick ourselves up and not worry about what has happened this week and stuff like that because it has nothing to with today’s performance. We are just disappointed.”
Maclaren revealed everyone wanted to get the result for Lennon. “He has been through a tough period. He has come out and said he doesn’t want pressure to be put on us because of him.
“Ultimately people think that but really he is putting his body on the line for us so we have to go out there and give a bit more trust and faith in him because he puts his body on the line for us.
“We are just disappointed we could not produce for him today. He backs us and we back him but today was an off day, you do get them but it wasn’t acceptable.”
Goalkeeper Adam Bogdan’s superb save from former Hibs midfielder Danny Swanson’s penalty, the Hungarian internationalist getting down low to his right to push the ball aside, appeared to have, at least, ensured a point but, admitted Maclaren, the whole day felt “flat”, both on and off the pitch.
He said: “Sometimes as players you don’t know what it is. Sometimes you feel when things aren’t going for you but the quality just wasn’t there. I speak for myself, I’ll let others speak for themselves, but for me, first game back my quality was not there.
“I can run around all I like but my job is to put it in the back of the net. We didn’t score today and I am fairly disappointed with my performance.
“It’s disappointing from all of us but we have to hold our hands up and move on.
“It’s been a difficult week but we aren’t going to make any excuses.”