Lennon slams sloppy finishing and poor defending in cup loss

Furious Hibs boss Neil Lennon admitted his players only had themselves to blame for crashing out of the Betfred Cup despite having led Queen of the South at half-time in their 3-1 defeat.

Wednesday, 10th August 2016, 5:30 am
Hibs defender Lewis Stevenson feels the pain as Queens celebrate their third
Hibs defender Lewis Stevenson feels the pain as Queens celebrate their third

Palmerston Park manager Gavin Skelton conceded the best thing at that stage from his team’s point of view was that they were trailing only to Paul Hanlon’s goal.

However, after the interval, inspired by substitute Stephen Dobbie, the Dumfries outfit staged a stunning comeback, the former Hibs striker hauling his side level before Grant Anderson and Lyndon Dykes completed a victory which hardly looked feasible at one point.

But Lennon blamed sloppy finishing and poor defending for Hibs defeat, saying: “I said to the players at half-time if it continues at 1-0 you will give the opposition encouragement and that’s exactly what we did.

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“It was disappointing. I’m annoyed at the way we defended, particularly in the last third of the game. Their third goal was academic as we were chasing the game then. We have to do better than that. We have to be more resolute.”

After Hanlon tapped home in the 22nd minute, Hibs passed up two glorious chances to put the game beyond their visitors, Grant Holt failing to turn home Jason Cummings’ pass before Liam Fontaine somehow headed wide from James Keatings free-kick.

Lennon said: “We peppered their goal all night but I’ve been in game a long time and you can see it coming. There is always that nagging worry at 1-0.

“We encouraged them by keeping it at 1-0. I can’t put the ball in the net for them. We need to have a bit more quality in the final third at times.

“Queen of the South are in our division and there looked to be a gulf between the teams, but they have come away with a win and congratulations to them.

“But there was sloppiness in the final third.

“I wasn’t happy with the three central defenders in the last 25 minutes and the second goal was a goalkeeping error.

“I thought some players who have been excellent so far were off the boil a bit.

“There is some work to be done. We need to pick ourselves up. I wasn’t happy with the three central defenders for the last 25 minutes. There’s a bit of work to be done there but our game management has to be better than that.”

Lennon made only one change to the side which had got Hibs’ Championship campaign off to such a good start with that 2-1 win over Falkirk at the weekend, Marvin Bartley replacing Scott Martin in midfield.

He explained: “I did not want to change that much. I wanted to keep the momentum going and for long spells it was fine. But the chances we missed ... I am waiting on the net rippling, especially the one from Liam Fontaine.

“That would have made it 2-0 and it would have been good night.

“People say we are a passing team. I still need to see that at times and we have to be better defensively.”

A delighted Skelton admitted the only good thing for his side in the first half was that they found themselves only one goal down but believed his players had improved after Hanlon scored.

He said: “Credit to the players. They showed good character. It was a good night for them and the club.”