Lee Johnson Ibrox verdict as Hibs boss challenges team to change 'bit-part performances'

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Hibs manager Lee Johnson has urged his players to turn their ‘bit-part performances’ into something more complete after watching a game of two halves against Rangers at Ibrox.

Hibs scored twice in the opening 15 minutes with Ryan Porteous heading the opener and Kevin Nisbet adding a second with Gers forward Fashion Sakala scoring in between. But second-half strikes by Ryan Jack and Alfredo Morelos turned the game on its head and consigned the visitors to a seventh defeat in eight games.

Speaking afterwards Johnson agreed that there had been plus points in the performance but bemoaned the familiar errors and passages of play that have dogged his side all season, as well as pointing to the inevitable tiring of some of those individuals returning from lengthy spells on the sidelines.

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“There were a lot of good performances but the challenge for us is turning these bit-part performances into something longer and more complete. The structure, the commitment, the organisation, and the quality were all there but unfortunately just not hard enough and not steely enough not to concede in the second half.

"We faded a little bit physically; that was natural with the guys we had out on the pitch and our clearances became less solid, less assured. But we weren't massively troubled. The corner was a frustrating one to concede but I think the third one is a fantastic goal. It was a great ball, and an easy finish.

“We have to focus on the positives. We have some good players coming back to fitness and we had some good players perform very well for that 45-50 minutes and in the first half I thought we were outstanding and unlucky not to go 3-1 up when Élie Youan had the strike and we countered well,” Johnson continued.

"We controlled a lot of the game off the ball so it was disappointing but also encouraging in terms of giving us a performance to build on. When we get good players 90-minute fit, we will be a force to be reckoned with in the division. We just have to keep working hard. You saw some of the work from the last two or three weeks in that performance and most of the lads will be disappointed but we know they put in a lot of effort and played well.”

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Special praise was reserved for Kevin Nisbet, who scored on his return to competitive action with his first league goal since Boxing Day and looked sharp up top as he played 80 minutes at Ibrox after appearances in both mid-season friendlies against Middlesbrough and Raith Rovers.

Hibs boss Lee Johnson was pleased with elements of his side's performance against RangersHibs boss Lee Johnson was pleased with elements of his side's performance against Rangers
Hibs boss Lee Johnson was pleased with elements of his side's performance against Rangers

"It’s massive to have him back. A club with our resources, you can't not have your best players fit. I would have loved to have had a pre-season with this squad but we didn't, so we are still building various parts of our overall picture.

"When you have a Scotland international at a club like this then it's important that he’s fit. He’s done extremely well and I'm delighted for him. The physio team deserves a lot of credit for accelerating his comeback. He deserved his goal and worked hard but, at the same time, he’ll continue to improve the longer time goes on.”

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