Lee Johnson laments defensive errors and admits European factor after Hibs defeat

Hibs boss Lee Johnson applauds the travelling support at full-time. Picture: SNSHibs boss Lee Johnson applauds the travelling support at full-time. Picture: SNS
Hibs boss Lee Johnson applauds the travelling support at full-time. Picture: SNS
Lee Johnson lamented defensive errors from his side after Hibs lost their second consecutive match to begin the cinch Premiership season, going down 2-1 at Motherwell.

Conor Wilkinson and impressive debutant Mika Biereth put Stuart Kettewell’s side into a commanding second-half lead. Though Adam Le Fondre pulled one back in stoppage time, it ultimately became nothing more than a consolation as a late rally from Hibs fell short.

Biereth demonstrated a real physical presence after coming off the bench and outmuscled opposing defenders for each of the goals. Firstly, he barged Lewis Stevenson out of the way before cutting back for Wilkinson to side-foot home. Then he managed to bump Will Fish off the ball after the Hibs defender initially won a foot-race for a Lennon Miller through ball. After gaining possession he then cut inside and drilled a low shot past David Marshall.

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With a huge game coming this Thursday in the Europa Conference League, as Hibs take a 3-1 lead to Luzern for their second-leg encounter in the third-qualifying round, Johnson wants to see his players cut out these mistakes at the back.

“The ebb and flow of the game was even in the first-half, the two sides nullified each other. There wasn’t a lot going on. The attitude was to go and take over the game, which didn’t happen,” said the Hibs boss.

“We’ve conceded two really poor goals, of a weak disposition in terms of the physical battle of those two moments.

“We've got to stop conceding poor goals, because as good as they would perceive their goals, we were in control of both situations on two or three occasions within that moment. That's what is frustrating for me because even though we've been poor today and not tested their goalkeeper, we've still scored.

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“That's now 12 goals now in four games, so we know we can score. But we've got to stop conceding poor goals which end up meaning we're chasing the game.”

In addition to those defensive lapses, Johnson’s side struggled to get anywhere near the intensity they showed in a memorable night at Easter Road this past Thursday in beating Luzern. The Englishman admitted his squad are finding it difficult to deal with the demands of playing Thursday and Sunday each week.

“I felt the output of Thursday affected us in terms of the zip,” he said. “The difference in the mental concentration was chalk and cheese in the two performances. The three days apart is a bit of a stretch for us at the moment, we’ve got six first-team starters out at the moment and ideally we’d have rotated a little bit more.

“The likes of Dylan Levitt, Dylan Vente and Martin Boyle are still getting minutes, Boyle was medically ruled out of the start. I don’t think the Thursday games are going to be a problem because that extra day recovery is big for us, we just need to keep getting stronger as we develop because the league is our bread and butter, zero points from two games isn’t good enough.”

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