ALTHOUGH his side were playing to go level on points with second-placed Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Motherwell, manager Pat Fenlon observed that St Johnstone “wanted it more” than Hibs on a grim night for the home team, who fell 3-1 at Easter Road.
Helped by the meekness of their opponents, the visitors leap-frogged Hibs into fourth-place and encouraged manager Steve Lomas to begin eyeing a European spot.
For Hibs, however, there was little cheer, although Liam Craig, who Hibs have secured on a pre-contract, did play well for the away team. Unfortunately, he is not due to arrive at Easter Road until the summer. “It was bitterly disappointing; it was not good enough,” said Fenlon, who looked on aghast as Hibs fell two goals behind after just 25 minutes, courtesy of a quick brace from Rowan Vine. Hibs goalkeeper Ben Williams continued his fine run of penalty-saving form, turning away Steven Maclean’s effort from 12 yards after 32 minutes. However, St Johnstone scored a deserved third in the second-half through Paddy Cregg, before Leigh Griffiths pulled one back.
“Before the first goal, there was nothing in the game,” pointed out Fenlon. “But after that we were all over the place. It was not good enough.
“We have an experienced team,” he added. “We should not be losing our shape and our discipline so quickly [after the first goal], that’s what is more disappointing than anything else. We have to look at it over the next few days and see how we move forward to the St Mirren game.
“We have plenty of young boys chomping at the bit to play, so we will have a look [at making changes]. If you look at the two teams, I thought St Johnstone worked tremendously hard. We did not have that tonight. I can’t say that too many times about my team this year, but definitely tonight we lacked that urgency and desire.”
St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas felt that his side could – and should – have had five goals, and “there could not have been much complaint”. His only regret was that his side did not take more of their opportunities in front of goal.
“It was a very good performance from start to finish,” he said. “We’ve had good performances and sometimes haven’t got what we’ve deserved, but we deserved this tonight. If it’d been two or three more there couldn’t have been much complaint. It’s about taking your chances, it’s about being clinical,” he added. “Goals change games. It’s about taking our chances. The main issue is we’ve not been clinical enough but we were here. It was a great third goal, a great team goal. What Paddy Cregg was doing there I don’t know.
“We’d love to get back into Europe as we really enjoyed our European adventure. I said before the game we’ve got nine games to the split and that’s our cup run. We’ll treat each game as a cup final and see where it takes us.”
On the question of why Steven MacLean took the penalty, and not the hat-trick hunting Vine, Lomas said: “Rowan probably did want to take the penalty but we decided before the game who would take penalties and we’d stick to that.
“Unfortunately for Steven he missed it but it was a great save by their ’keeper.”