Dan Armstrong’s second-half penalty gave Killie a 1-0 win in Ayrshire although Hibs battled hard to force something from the game there was little quality on show in the final third. Still, Johnson remains confident that returning players will galvanise Hibs after the five-week World Cup break as he continued to take an optimistic perspective of recent weeks. It may not be a view shared by the Easter Road, whose frustrations were clear at Rugby Park.
"I'm hurting,” said Johnson. “I'm not delusional; I hate not having that winning feeling and we all do, but when I look at the six losses, I think we should have more points from that. I've got to be careful what I say because people don't want to hear that, they don't want to hear any sort of excuse after a game. I thought the fans were great, the first thing I'd say is thanks because they were singing away until the 96th minute. We are and I am desperate to do well for them. We're only three points off third, still, and I think that shows how tight and compact the league is.”
Johnson, meanwhile, was critical of Marijan Cabraja after his foul gave Kilmarnock the crucial penalty on which the game turned. VAR intervened after Cabraja’s foul on Liam Polworth had initially been flagged as a free-kick. Johnson was irked, however, that with the player going away from goal that there had been a foul committed, regardless of where it was. But with Armstrong converting the penalty to send David Marshall the wrong way, the mistake proved to be particularly costly.
“I haven't seen it in terms of VAR replays but Marijan thought there was nowhere near enough contact for someone to go down, so we won't know,” he said. "The VAR's deemed it inside the box which is disappointing, but it's a poor decision from Marijan, to even attempt to make contact because he was leaving the area and facing away from goal, so it's basic defending."