Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon refrained from berating his players with a trademark broadside, but was left lamenting a flat performance in yesterday’s defeat by St Johnstone.
The home side had been on course to secure at least a share of the spoils when Anthony Stokes levelled with a stoppage-time penalty.
Murray Davidson had scored Saints’ first goal in 620 minutes of action with a 74th minute opener and experienced marksman Steven MacLean netted with the last kick of the game to earn the visitors their first win in seven matches.
“I’m not going to be over-critical of the players,” said Lennon, who drew comfort from the fact that Aberdeen and Rangers – who sandwich Hibs in third place in the Premiership – were also beaten. “I’ll get over it.
“There was a flatness about us and I can understand it. It’s been a fragmented couple of weeks with players being away and players being out injured, some needing a rest.
“A point would have kept a decent run going. I just wanted us to get the point and you can come away saying, ‘well we haven’t played well but we got a point and showed a bit of character’.
“To lose it in those circumstances – it’s crazy.”
Hibs enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the first half but failed to make it count during a forgettable 45 minutes of football.
The best chance before the break actually fell to Saints when goalkeeper Ofir Marciano pushed Liam Craig’s 12-yard drive on to the bar.
The McDiarmid Park outfit began the second period with a fresh reminder that they were not in town just to make up the numbers. Steven Anderson had a close-range volley cleared off the line by John McGinn.
A flowing counter-attacking move by the visitors in the 63rd minute then gave Michael O’Halloran a sight of goal but Marciano tipped the forward’s fericious drive over the bar.
However, St Johnstone found an opening through Davidson. Craig’s delivery to the back post was headed back across by Graham Cummings and the midfielder nodded past the Israeli international shot-stopper from close range.
There was plenty of drama to come. Hibs scored a controversial equaliser after Joe Shaughnessy was adjudged to have handled Martin Boyle’s shot. Stokes scored and the visitors were guilty of time wasting as Hibs tried desperately to restart the match.
Ironically, it was Saints who netted the winner with the last kick, through MacLean.
Marciano could not hold Craig’s 12-yard drive and the experienced marksman tapped the ball into the net at the back post.
Saints manager Tommy Wright said: “When you go on the run we’ve been on some people start to doubt you. But I would never doubt these players. You can never write us off.
“When you score a 93rd-minute winner after conceding a penalty in the 90th minute it’s very satisfying. The range of emotions in those three minutes was incredible.”