PAT FENLON today admitted Hibs had got exactly what they deserved after watching a James McFadden-inspired Motherwell inflict a crushing blow to the Easter Road club’s hopes of a top six finish.
Leading through Tom Taiwo’s first goal for the Capital outfit, Fenlon’s players had no answer as the Fir Park side mounted a stunning second half fight-back, scoring through Michael Higdon, McFadden, Kallum Higginbotham and Tom Hateley.
While Hibs retain sixth place in the SPL table, Dundee United, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen now all enjoy a game in hand and can overhaul Fenlon’s side should they win that match.
Hibs themselves face two tough matches, at home to Inverness Caley in a fortnight’s time before travelling to face champions Celtic in their final game before the split, but despite the damage done in Lanarkshire last night, Fenlon insisted they can still make the top half of the table.
Fenlon, who celebrated his 44th birthday yesterday, said: “It was disappointing, we got what we deserved out of the game: nothing.
“We were lucky to be in the lead at half-time and in the second half we were very, very poor.”
Agreeing McFadden had been outstanding for Stuart McCall’s side, Fenlon insisted his team’s poor performance lay behind their defeat. He said: “McFadden was good, but we did not match their aggression or their work-rate in the second half.
“They got about us and we did not stand up to that. We conceded a goal and lost three in 15 minutes. That’s happened to us a couple of times this season and it shouldn’t happen. We have experienced players out there and when you concede a goal, particularly away from home, you have to be resilient and make sure you do not lose a second quickly.
“They’d started the game positively and we knew they’d come out for the second and have a go so you have to be strong mentally and physically as well. We gave away an early goal and then we looked nervous.”
While United, Killie and the Dons will undoubtedly have received a fillip from this result, Fenlon was adamant that although a top six finish – which once looked totally assured – is most certainly on a knife-edge, he retains the belief Hibs can make it.
He said: “We still have that opportunity to get there, but we are definitely making it difficult for ourselves, there’s no doubt about that.”