Jack Ross: Hibs can’t blame derby hangover for defeat at Livingston

Agony after the high of derby day win as Hibs crash to defeat in Livingston

Sunday, 29th December 2019, 5:59 pm
Updated Sunday, 29th December 2019, 6:12 pm
Hibs head coach Jack Ross makes his point from the touchline as his side went down to Livingston.
Hibs head coach Jack Ross makes his point from the touchline as his side went down to Livingston.

Hibs head coach Jack Ross insisted his players couldn’t blame a derby-day hangover for their defeat by Livingston.

After beating Hearts at Tynecastle on Boxing Day, the Easter Road side were brought crashing back to earth as two goals from Jon Guthrie saw them slip from fifth to sixth in the Premiership table with the Lions leapfrogging them.

Ross admitted Hibs didn’t deserve to win at the Tony Macaroni Arena, conceding his players were “very short of being good enough”.

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While he had warned of potential pitfalls coming off the back of highly-charged games against Celtic, Rangers and Hearts, Ross insisted that shouldn’t be considered a factor in their defeat.

He said: “The games we’ve played shouldn’t have had an effect, there is always an emotional come down from a big game like Thursday but physically we were in the same place as Livingston, they played away from home.

“I wouldn’t look at that as a factor, we have been a little bit like that in recent times, inconsistent with what we’ve produced and it’s something we need to rectify. There have been a lot of decent performances and results in the last couple of months, but days like today shows we’ve still got a bit to go.”

Ross had hoped to finish 2019 with back-to-back wins, but he insisted that in the few weeks since he took over from Paul Heckingbottom things have turned out “okay” for the Capital club,

“There has been a lot crammed into a short period of time for me, a lot of fixtures and I’ve been learning about the team all the time,” he said.

“I probably wanted to get to this point in an okay position and we’ve managed that. We’re in the top half. We’d like to have an even more positive points total but it has given us an okay footing to push on in the second half. I can reflect on the last eight or nine games during the break.”

While accepting this match was far different to the three which preceded it, Ross insisted his players have to learn how to win matches regardless.

He said: “There are occasions like today that are far different to what we've faced in recent weeks. The type of game was different, the surface makes it different and the conditions made the game different.

“But you have to find a way to win. It's nice to win in a nice manner all the time but today was always going to be a type of game that would be decided by the type of goals it was. Particularly the first one, how scruffy it is. We need to get better at doing that side of the game as well."

Hibs now have a three-week break during which they’ll enjoy some warm weather training in the south of Spain before facing Dundee United in the Scottish Cup, the January transfer window offering Ross the first opportunity to put his mark on the Easter Road squad.

However, he insisted his thinking won’t be influenced by one result saying: "I'm not knee jerk that way. Just because we lose a game doesn't change what I thought, just as because we won on Thursday didn't change it.

“I do think there's one or two areas we need to be stronger in and have more options but we also need to make room within our squad to do that. We've got a bit of time in that we don't [lay again for a few weeks but and that allows us to see what we can do but I've very much worked on the premise of making the best of what I've got.

“I've tried to do that over the last six or seven weeks and ultimately if that's where I end up then fine, I've just got to keep doing that."

Livingston boss Gary Holt was delighted with his team’s performance, describing their win as “thoroughly deserved”.

And he admitted he felt Hibs exertions on Boxing Day could play a part, saying: “It’s always hard after an Edinburgh derby to raise your game.

“We wanted to make it uncomfortable, to get at them and I thought we did that from front to back and scored two well-worked goals.”