Shaun Maloney praises Hibs players for bravery on ball against Celtic and insists there's 'lots to be positive about'

Upbeat Hibs boss Shaun Maloney insisted there were “lots of things to be very positive about” after a 2-0 cinch Premiership defeat at Celtic Park.

By Patrick McPartlin
Monday, 17th January 2022, 10:28 pm
Updated Monday, 17th January 2022, 11:19 pm

He was pleased with his team’s bravery to keep playing their way out in the face of Celtic’s high press, particularly after going 2-0 down in the first half.

He also acknowledged that there is room for improvement, particularly in the final third going forward, but defended Kevin Nisbet after the striker missing a golden chance and was later substituted.

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“Mixed feelings,” Maloney told BBC Sportsound when asked to assess his third match in charge. “There are things to improve on, but I was very, very pleased with parts of the game. They way we played here was very, very good.

“I think there was just a part of that one we did get through Celtic’s press then I think it’s just that final bit that we can improve on. But very, very pleased with us to come here with the mentality and play the way we did.”

Later, he told reporters: “For one thing the mentality was good, to go 2-0 down and still try and play like we did. I actually thought some of our play in the first two thirds was pretty good.

“Moving forward we have to try and use that to create more chances. “It was just that final bit where we had to be more aggressive to take the one v ones. That was maybe the difference tonight.

Hibs manager Shaun Maloney insisted there were a number of positives to take from the performance at Celtic Park.

“I just think that when we get to the final third we’re more aggressive. But I can’t ask the boys to be more brave. There were lots of really good things from us up until the final part.”

Asked about the glaring chance Nisbet missed in the third minute, when he failed to sort out his feet and fluffed an open goal attempt onto the post from a few yards, Maloney replied: “That was a big moment. And sometimes in these game those are the fine margins which have an impact.

“But I can’t say too much about Kevin because he’s been excellent since I’ve been here. He was probably the difference for us against Dundee United.

“In those moments sometimes strikers take them and sometimes they don’t. I’m pretty sure in the next game against Cove he’ll be in exactly the same position and he has the quality to take it.”

Hibs were under intense pressure in the first half, but Maloney was pleased that his players stuck with his game plan rather than being tempted to be more direct.

“It was a big test for our players,” he added. “But to continue to play they way they did was very, very good. Really, really pleased with large parts of it. It’s just that final part, trying to create, being more aggressive once we do get through their line of pressure. But that’s for me to work on. I’m the coach.

“There are moments in games that are tough and you have to be resilient. But at that point I wanted to see the team and how they’d react. It does knock your confidence, but it didn’t show. they kept playing.

“They kept trying to play through the pressure, which they did at times. It’s that final part that we need to work on. That’s the biggest thing I took from it.

“There’s lots of things to be very positive about. It’s just that little bit of quality at the end. I know it’s in there. It’s up to me to find it.”

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