The one thing new Hibs boss wants to improve after Day 1 draw

Montgomery saw room for improvement. Montgomery saw room for improvement.
Montgomery saw room for improvement. | SNS Group
New gaffer’s reaction as late concession sees two points dropped

New Hibs head coach Nick Montgomery will have his team working on their Achilles’ heel of defending set pieces after watching them blow a 2-0 lead at Rugby Park.

But he insists there are plenty of positives to take from a 2-2 draw at one of the Scottish Premiership’s toughest away venues.

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And he can’t wait to experience the full Easter Road roar as he prepares for three home games in a week.

Montgomery, who was installed as Lee Johnson’s replacement on Monday morning, ended up settling for a point as Kilmarnock came back from the brink in front of their own fans.

The former Central Coast Mariners boss admitted defender Rocky Bushiri shouldn’t have taken chances when giving away a corner with 11 minutes remaining.

After watching Joe Wright rise to head in the equaliser, Montgomery admitted: “It’s obviously frustrating, going 2- 0 up and then not winning. I thought the boys played some really good stuff because this isn’t an easy place to come to so, yes, I’m disappointed.

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“I thought we could have killed the game off. We had some really good chances in the first half, their ‘keeper pulled off some good saves and there was some desperate defending from them.

“But as soon as conceded that first goal it gave them a little bit of momentum. They started to knock balls into the box and they’re very good at that – they have some really physical players.

“Right now it hurts to have conceded the equaliser from a set piece; that annoys me. There’s plenty to work on.

“Rocky Bushiri is a big guy, he’s been knocked in the back and probably lost his balance - but he knows he should have put the ball out. Instead, he stumbles on it.

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“You don’t want to be giving corners away to Kilmarnock, with the delivery and the movement they have.

“But you have to defend set pieces well, that’s probably something that has let them down at the start of this season, so that’s something to work on.

“Other than that one, I thought we defended really well, the boys put their bodies on the line and fought for each other.

“I wanted them to be brave and I thought they were very brave. We played some good stuff and caused a lot of problems.”

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Christian Doidge went off just before half-time with a face injury, the manager revealing: “Christian has a double split in his eye. He’s just gone to head the ball and taken a knee to the eye socket.

“He was a really good foil for us, so it was disappointing to lose him. But Josh Campbell came on and did really.

“A couple of other boys are carrying knocks but that’s normal. If you compete with the physical teams, you expect a few knocks – and I’m sure they’ll be nursing a few as well.

“There were a lot of positives, without naming everyone because it was a real team effort.

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“Josh came on and gave us a good shift, as did Adam Le Fondre, while Jordan Obita gave us more power and pace.

“It’s not easy to cram everything into a week but the boys have been really receptive. What I’ve learned is that we have a great staff, the squad is very strong and we have plenty of competition for places.

“They learned plenty this week. There was a lot of information going into them and I wanted to see how they took it on board.”

Admitting to still feeling the after-effects of his move from Australia, Montgomery added: “I was a bit jet lagged for the first few days and then I was trying to get to know everybody at the training ground and the club.

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“Everyone has been really welcoming, the players, the fans, the staff, just wandering around the local area, people coming up and wishing me well. That’s what I want to see.

“We’ve got three home games coming up and it’s a real good chance for us to fill Easter Road, give us a real push towards that next international break in October. I thought the fans were outstanding today.”

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