Hibs boss Jack Ross gives verdict on St Johnstone offside goal, penalty and hails matchwinner Stevie Mallan

Easter Road gaffer takes slice of fortune in win over St Johnstone

Jack Ross congratulates Stevie Mallan after he bagged Hibs' winner.
Jack Ross congratulates Stevie Mallan after he bagged Hibs' winner.

Hibs head coach Jack Ross admitted Hibs benefitted from some luck in their 1-0 win over St Johnstone, but hailed his players for clocking up 13 points out of 15 as they recorded their best start to a top-flight campaign since the 1974/75 season.

Hibs were given a reprieve midway through the first half when Callum Hendry’s header was ruled out for offside, although television pictures showed that the St Johnstone striker was being played onside by Daryl Horgan.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

In what was a largely scrappy encounter, Hibs went on to win the match when Stevie Mallan converted a stoppage-time penalty after Liam Gordon fouled Ryan Porteous. They now sit joint-top of the Premiership and welcome Aberdeen to the Capital next Sunday before the league pauses for an international break.

"I’m obviously delighted to win the game at a difficult away venue,” said Ross.

“I thought first half we were good. I was satisfied at half-time and I thought if we could beat that we would have a good chance of winning the game.

“Callum [Davidson, St Johnstone manager] got a reaction from his team and I thought they were better than us in the second half.

“We made as many changes as we could and tried to get as many attacking players on the pitch to try to help us and although we didn't play as well we got slightly better and obviously a penalty kick at the end which to fall our way is great. To come away from home, another clean sheet and win the game is satisfying.”

However, Ross was honest with his appraisal of St Johnstone’s ruled-out goal.

"I have been in the game a long time and usually my gut reaction is the one I trust and I thought at the time, I was disappointed at how soft the goal was from our point of view,” said Ross. “If it was a goal, it looked onside.

“You see the flag go up and you doubt yourself but I watched it at half time and it looked onside. So that is obviously a break that went our way.”

The Hibs boss did feel that the officials made the correct call with the penalty, which was contested by St Johnstone players.

“I thought it was,” said Ross. “I've only seen it again from our footage. By the time Ryan falls, there are a lot of bodies round him which I can understand there being a bit of dubiety, but I thought there was contact from Liam Gordon.

"There were two hands on the back quite early as the ball is in the air which maybe people don't look at, but from that point of view it was a penalty – but I can understand people arguing for and against it.”

Ross was also full of praise for his matchwinner Stevie Mallan, who played his first competitive match since Boxing Day and fired home the winner in stoppage time. The Hibs boss revealed he told substitute Mallan to go on and get the decisive goal.

"I said to him to go on and win the game for us. I didn’t imagine it would be in that manner,” added Mallan.

“I feel he has got quality and this is the first week when he has been really fit. He’s had a problem with his knee for a while now. Even when he came back in pre-season it wasn’t quite right.

“We have worked hard at fixing that for him and I think this week of training is the best he’s felt. Although he was on the bench last week, this is the first time he’s really been at our disposal.

“I’m pleased and will help his confidence because it’s been a difficult period for him.”