DEFENDER Paul Hanlon believes Hibernian passed up a real chance to claim silverware this season after being dumped out of the Scottish League Cup by bitter rivals Hearts.
Pat Fenlon’s men dominated the opening spell at Easter Road and carved out a number of chances in a tie which they were regarded as favourites to win.
But they were left stunned when Ryan Stevenson grabbed the only goal of the game to ensure the administration-hit Jambos would be the side drawn against Inverness in the last four.
And, with both halves of the Old Firm already out of the competition, Hanlon admits the League Cup is a missed opportunity for Hibs.
He said: “When Celtic go out, everyone looks at it and thinks they’ve got a chance this year.
“On another night we could have scored two or three goals and won the game comfortably.
“But it was a wonder strike from their player and it has put us out of the cup.
“I think we were favourites and I think we showed that in our performance as well.
“We passed the ball better, kept the ball better and created the better chances but on the night the ball didn’t go into the net.”
The cup exit marked the second Edinburgh derby defeat of the season so far to financially-stricken Hearts, who sit bottom of the Scottish Premiership having been docked 15 points for going into administration.
And a crowd of angry Hibs fans gathered outside the stadium after the game to demand the removal of boss Fenlon.
Hanlon said: “We want to send the supporters home happy. We tried our best.
“We created a number of chances but their keeper has produced great saves and kept the ball out.
“When you get beat, the fans are going to be disappointed but I think the level of performance was of a decent standard.
“We are just disappointed we are out of the cup.
“It’s bitterly disappointing, especially with the number of chances we made in the game.
“I don’t think we have made as many chances all season in all the games put together as we did in this game. We are just disappointed.”
Paul Heffernan has been in impressive form since his arrival at Hibs but the forward was cup-tied and forced to sit out the visit of Hearts.
Asked if his absence led to a lack of cutting edge up front, Hanlon said: “It’s hard to say.
“Paul has been great since he came in but I thought the lads were excellent, created chances and, on another night, we would have scored two or three goals.”