Neil Lennon believes Hibs should have beaten St Johnstone

Neil Lennon
Neil Lennon
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Neil Lennon feels Hibs passed up the chance to make it back-to-back wins in the Premiership as they paid the price for failing to take a string of first-half chances before being forced to settle for a draw against St Johnstone.

In particular, Lennon was left to bemoan a “double chance” which saw Australian striker Jamie Maclaren’s close-range shot taken off the Saints line, only for Lewis Stevenson to screw the rebound wide.

He said: “Jamie should have scored, that would have given us the ascendancy that we deserved in the game.”

As it was Hibs paid for those early misses, former Hearts striker Tony Watt robbing Stevie Mallan inside his own penalty area before his shot was deflected past goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw.

Oli Shaw claimed his third goal of the season to level the match for which Lennon had made four changes, looking to strike a balance between the demands of the new league season and Hibs’ tilt at making the group stages of the Europa League with Thursday night’s showdown with Norwegian side Molde looming.

He said: “We missed some great chances, especially the first half. We took control of the game and they score with a bit of good fortune. We came out second half, got our goal and dominated possession.

“We looked a bit rusty up top again. Maclaren is still finding his feet, but those 60 minutes will do him the world of good. He knows the should have scored, but the good thing about Jamie is that he is always in there sniffing around and with Martin Boyle in the team we looked a real threat.

“He was fantastic for us last year and a revelation again this year with his fitness, energy and spark. He’s a very exciting player to watch.

“Overall, I have to be happy with the level of performance, but not the result.

“It’s a balancing act at the minute. We have to use the squad as much as we can. After the game Thursday, the boys are off Friday. Saturday is a recovery day and then they prepare for this game. I am pleased with the fact we are unbeaten in seven or eight games since the start of the season, but I am disappointed not to win which is perhaps an indication of how far we have come.”

Both Adam Bogdan and Darren McGregor missed the trip to McDiarmid Park, but while the goalkeeper should be fit to join Lennon’s squad as they leave for Norway on Tuesday, he admitted the central defender will again be out with the knee injury which has sidelined him for Hibs’ last three games.

Saints boss Tommy Wright, meanwhile, was adamant his side should have had a late penalty when a misplaced header from Efe Ambrose came off the arm of team-mate Ryan Porteous.

He said: “When you see what handballs are given for in terms of penalties that has to be handball.

“It’s hit his arm and I don’t see why it should not have been given, it’s that obvious.”

Overall, though, Wright admitted to being happy with a point after being bitterly disappointed at St Johnstone’s performance as they lost to Kilmarnock on the opening day of the season.

He said: “It was an entertaining game. I think both managers could have been standing after the game quite easily with no points. It was one of those games that was end-to-end at times.”