Hibs boss Pat Fenlon has accused his players of a lack of desire after watching the Easter Road outfit’s six-match unbeaten run brought to a shuddering halt by Scottish Premiership leaders Inverness Caley Thistle.
A mix-up between goalkeeper Ben Williams and centre-half Michael Nelson gifted in-form Caley striker Billy McKay an early goal, but their hopes of staging another away-day comeback were dashed as Terry Butcher’s men hit them with a quick-fire double in the second half, McKay claiming his ninth goal of the season hard on the heels of skipper Richie Foran having netted.
But while insisting Hibs can prove the setback is nothing more than a “blip”, Fenlon admitted he was bitterly disappointed by the outcome given the Capital club’s recent record. Insisting there was little between the sides in the opening period, Fenlon conceded Caley were well worth their win come the final whistle.
He said: “In the second half they were much better and showed more determination and character to win the game. We have been on a good run, but in the second half we did not turn up, didn’t put an effort into it. We did not show enough desire to stop Inverness playing. They put a lot of balls on top of us and picked up a lot of second balls off that.
“Credit to the goalscorers, but we did not get close enough to stop little things like that happening. I thought they did that really well, the hard part of the game. They put in a hard shift which we didn’t do in the second half in particular.”
Revealing the lack of desire shown had annoyed him most, Fenlon went on: “We have good players, but you have to be able to come and scrap here. That’s what it is all about, making sure you go toe-to-toe with them and hopefully you can then go and play. But you have to earn that right to play and we didn’t earn it.”
Fenlon, who was seen conducting an immediate post-match analysis on the touchline with his assistant Jimmy Nicholl and coaches Scott Thomson and Alan Maybury, will go into what went wrong in more depth with Hibs’ next match, against Partick Thistle at Firhill, not until next Monday.
Asked if the 3-0 defeat by Caley could be considered a blip or something more serious, Fenlon said: “I’m sure everyone will put it down to something more serious, that’s just the way it is. But we’ve been on a decent run, we’ve lost a game and now we have to get back on working hard, trying to put it right and being ready for the next game.”
Meanwhile, Paul Cairney, who hasn’t kicked a ball in anger this season after sustaining ankle ligament damage, made his comeback as Hibs clocked up their sixth successive win in the East of Scotland League. Gavin McCaffrey and Ryan Baptie scored to sink Duns 2-1.