Lee Johnson vows to 'stick it out' after Hibs cup exit at the hands of Hearts

Hibs manager Lee Johnson insists he is not going anywhere despite a tenth defeat in 14 matches for the Easter Road side at the hands of city rivals Hearts on Sunday.

Goals from Josh Ginnelly, Lawrence Shankland, and Toby Sibbick secure a 3-0 victory and passage to the fifth round of the Scottish Cup for Robbie Neilson’s side, with Hibs twice hitting the woodwork through Josh Campbell and Élie Youan.

Reflecting on a disappointing afternoon Johnson accepted there would be ‘question marks’ on him.

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“It’s been too long since we won a derby. We know that and the players know that, but I told them there are no excuses. It's my job to keep believing in these lads. We've got to finish third, fourth in the league. That starting XI has enough international caps and enough quality as you saw in the game, but we've got to do more in terms of killing opposition and scoring the first goal,” he said afterwards.

Lee Johnson

"There's a lot to do at this football club. There's got to be improvement. I enjoy my job and I'm here fighting every day to try and lift everyone. Of course, there's going to be question marks on myself. I know the challenges and I'm going to continue and stick it out.”

The Hibs boss was loathe to talk about plus points from the game – ‘we’re out of a cup and extremely disappointed’ – but feels his side already looks better than it did a month ago.

“No one wants to hear me talking about the positives, but I think our side had a lot of quality in it,” he explained. “We are chasing a couple in terms of their peak performance but we looked a better unit and a better side than we did four or five weeks ago. Hearts are just that little bit ahead of us at the moment and we need to bridge that gap as quickly as possible. You look at depth and their subs coming on are a little bit stronger – 11 v 11, we weren’t a million miles off; we are unlucky with a couple of injuries but all teams have them and you have to deal with it. We are desperately trying to increase the quality and reduce the quantity and bring our young players through. That’s how we bridge the gap with any team ahead of us.”

But Johnson did bemoan the poor defending that led to Shankland scoring Hearts’ second, and insisted his team needs to get the ball into the box earlier than they have been.

“I thought we started extremely well on the front foot. We need to get that first goal more often than we’re getting it at the moment, and we did have opportunities to do that. We hit the post and their first opportunity came from a breakaway. If I’m being a bit critical I’d like us to deliver into the box that little bit earlier as the strikers need to be able to make their movement, but at half-time we felt we had a helluva chance to get back into the game but the second goal was really poor defending. It was a decent finish but the difference up to that point was the clinical nature inside the box.”