Ryan who? Hibs manager Lee Johnson hails new-look defence after another clean sheet at St Mirren
On a day when Ryan Porteous scored on his debut for Watford, Lee Johnson hailed his new-look Hibs defence after a second clean sheet in three games and quipped: “Ryan who?”
The Hibs boss singled out new recruits CJ Egan-Riley and James Jeggo for particular praise, along with match-winner Elie Youan after the French forward’s third goal in three games secured a hard-fought 1-0 win over St Mirren in Paisley.
“We are starting to show signs that we are a solid outfit after a bad run with a lot of goals conceded,” said the manager. “I thought Jimmy Jeggo and CJ Riley were fantastic. You can see why we brought them to the club. We had a nice balance. It was always going to be a tough game. St Mirren are excellent at home and you can see why. Two honest teams going at it and I thought we had a little bit more quality on the day in a couple of moments.”
Hibs have conceded one goal – a hotly contested one at Ross County – in three games since Porteous departed, with Will Fish and Paul Hanlon producing another solid performance in central defence. Johnson will continue assessing free agent Mikey Devlin next week to provide further cover, but is delighted with the way Fish and Hanlon have steadied the ship.
“Ryan who?,” smiled Johnson, who had just learned that Porteous started and scored with a header in Watford’s 2-2 draw with Reading. “I’m joking – he scored today, that's good for him! Will Fish is an outstanding young player and I'm delighted to bring in CJ, and I've got Paul Hanlon in there who organises and talks, and Jimmy in there, another talker, another bit of experience.
“That's solidified us, it's what we needed. We're going to be a little bit lucky in terms of not getting those players injured, because we haven't got as much depth as we would like in that position, but credit goes to the whole team.”
He added: “We knew how tough it would be but we feel like we're starting to turn it into a winning culture. The clean sheet is huge for us, we conceded a lot of goals in our bad run. To a man, everybody competed and we had that one brain as a team that gave us the opportunity to get that big chance.”
The manager believes Youan is beginning to show what he is capable of after his third goal in as many games proved to be the difference between the teams in a hard-fought games played in wet and windy conditions on a bumpy pitch.
"He's in excellent form,” added Johnson. “It's difficult when a foreign player comes in, you never quite sure how they are going to settle, the tempo of the league, the culture, the country, but it seems like he loves it, he enjoys it and he's now showing why he played through all the youth levels in France.
“He's a really good signing for us. It's an excellent finish. At first I thought he'd been pulled down, but he's done well to stay on his feet and it's wonderful finish at a very important time of the match.”