Lee Johnson bemoans 'same patterns' for Hibs but insists side will be better after the World Cup break
Hibs manager Lee Johnson admits the ‘same pattern repeating’ is killing his side, after watching them fall to a sixth defeat in seven matches.
Danny Armstrong’s penalty early in the second half secured a vital three points for Kilmarnock, who repelled late pressure from the visitors to consign them to a third consecutive defeat after losses against Aberdeen and Ross County.
Johnson insisted that the performance had been better than the midweek reversal against the Staggies and despite another defeat, were still in touching distance of the best-of-the-rest position.
“We had to show a commitment and I think we did; I don't think that could be thrown at us, but it's the same pattern repeating: dominate the game, dominate the final third, and then fail to execute,” he said afterwards.
"We're only three points off third – still – and I think that shows how tight and compact the league is. We've wasted far too many opportunities against sides we believe we should be better than and it's clear that there's a quality issue in the final third. How many times did we get into the box, waiting for a green sock to turn up in the middle of the goal to smack the ball home?
"We got into good positions in good time but lacked the execution and again our final action has been poor on too many occasions. I'm hurting. I'm not delusional but when I look at the six losses, I think we should have more points. I've got to be careful what I say because people don't want to hear any excuse after a lost game, but we were much better than we were on Tuesday.”
Johnson is adamant that the return of big-hitters such as Martin Boyle, Jake Doyle-Hayes, Kyle Magennis, Aiden McGeady, and Kevin Nisbet can make a world of difference to his side in the second half of the season.
"We've got a break, and an awful lot of quality not in the team; players who can unlock a door and that's been the most frustrating thing. I really do think we'll get a lot more in the second half of the season from those players,” he continued.
Johnson had harsh words again for VAR after its involvement in a disallowed goal for Hibs, and the penalty award for the hosts which saw Marijan Čabraja penalised for a foul on Liam Polworth that looked outside the box, although the checks signalled a spot-kick instead.
"I haven't seen it in but Marijan thought there was nowhere near enough contact for someone to go down. The VAR's deemed it inside the box which is disappointing, but it's a poor decision from Marijan, to even attempt to make contact because their player was leaving the area facing away from goal. It’s basic defending. Our goal I think was off by a kneecap or a knee hair?
"It's the way it's going for us at the moment, we can't get that bit of luck. Against Dundee United we scored a valid goal that would have stood with VAR. It just hasn't worked well for us in terms of momentum.
"How long does it take to do everything? You can't get any flow because everything is being checked and referees are slowing everything down."