Hamstrung by a long list of unhelpful absentees, including two of the three-man strikeforce that proved so instrumental in Hibs’ lofty league status last term, they again struggled to conjure up goals.
While Christian Doidge was out injured earlier in the season, he returned just as Martin Boyle was departing for Saudi Arabia, in January. Ally that to the long-term injury sustained by Kevin Nisbet just as he was regaining his form, and there are reasons for Hibs impotence. But, with everyone jostling for position as the split looms and Europe still a strong possibility, they have to find a way to adapt.
“It’s still up for grabs but, to respect the teams around us, it’s a fight for the top six,” said Maloney.
“But the way the squad is at the minute, I feel as long as we’re in touching distance after the international break and hopefully by then we will have three or four back and make a difference to the squad.
“We are very young. To ask this squad to really push for fourth is a big ask. They need more senior players back.
“If you look at the squad, it’s hard in terms of some of the players who are missing and how the squad evolved in the window,” he added, pointing to a dearth of quality and confidence in the final third, where they are desperately seeking a more incisive display.
“They’ve given me everything, there was no lack of effort there. It’s just that bit of quality in the final third
“I was disappointed with the second half. I thought we controlled the first half without the last part. We’re getting into good areas but that final bit of quality and that aggression in the final third is definitely lacking. Defensively we’re giving up very few opportunities but in games like that we have to demand more.
“We have to add a real clinical edge and more creativity in the final third because next up is a cup game so we need a result ”