Paul McGinn slams 'disgusting' conditions and admits Hibs were forced to 'launch it' against St Johnstone
St Johnstone deserve praise for the way they tackled the match and stood up to Hibs’ second half onslaught, with matchwinner Liam Craig admitting the home side had struggled to venture too far up field. But, allied to their self-belief, mental fortitude and willingness to put their bodies on the line, their familiarity with the playing surface and ability to fashion a gameplan that suited those underfoot conditions, helped Callum Davdison’s men to keep their hopes of a top six spot alive.
The Betfred Cup winners took a 16th-minute lead when Josh Doig’s attempted clearance landed at Craig, just outside the box. Showing composure he moved it onto his left foot and sent his shot into the bottom corner of Ofir Marciano’s net. It was to prove the deciding moment of the match.
Hibs tried to come back at their hosts but in the opening half they found it difficult to get time on the ball as Saints chased and harried them, working hard to close them down quickly. Rushing passes as a consequence, when they came off the interplay was slick and quick but on other occasions, with little time to get the ball under control on a bobbly surface, they struggled.
In the second half, taking a more direct approach, they laid siege to the Perth goal but were resolutely denied.
"Given the pitch, I think the first goal was always going to be vital. It was pretty sloppy from us. But it was St Johnstone's only chance,” said McGinn. "But as soon as they went ahead they realised what the conditions were like and sat in.
“What we are dealing with is just not conducive to any kind of football. It's pretty disgusting to be honest. But what are we going to do? I felt that when we started to launch it we did a bit better. It's not really what we are, but you have to play with what you're given.
"Maybe we adapted a bit late but it was all us in the second half so we can't be too harsh on ourselves. They spent the whole second half just kicking it anywhere and I can't really blame them because it got them the result.”
Pressing for a goal until the very last minute when McGinn’s own close range effort was blocked, the inability to grab even a point allowed fourth-placed Aberdeen to edge slightly closer, the blow was softened by their failure to collect more than a point.
“I thought we had enough in the second half to get something, but it just didn't fall for us,” added the right-back. “Thankfully, Aberdeen didn't really take advantage and not caught up on us too much.”
The gap is now three points but with Derek McInnes’ men idling next weekend, Hibs could stretch that to six against Ross County.
"I watched their game against Celtic and their pitch isn't much different.
"It's not John Hughes' way to play like that but they've got Jordan White [to aim for up front] and given the conditions, that's what we'll need to do.”