Fenlon laments Easter Road team’s inability to stick to ‘gameplan’

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HIBERNIAN manager Pat Fenlon called for his team to “show more balls” in adversity after watching them concede four goals in 28 second half minutes to lose 4-3 at Motherwell. The loss leaves him with only one victory from 12 Scottish Premier League matches in charge of a Leith club who remain joint-bottom of the table with Dunfermline.

Fenlon was left watching a re-run of previous collapses after his keeper Graham Stack clattered Henrik Ojamaa in the 47th minute to gift the home team a penalty. It proved the turning point in an encounter Hibs were then leading through an 18th minute Isaiah Osbourne strike. “We’ve got to have more balls when we concede goals and stick at it, stick to the shape, the game plan,” Fenlon lamented. “The gameplan worked really well in the first half, why go away from that two minutes in to the second half? But that’s what we did, we went away from what we did really well in the first half.

“We killed ourselves tonight. Motherwell played well, but we didn’t clear our lines, didn’t follow the ball on one-twos, and made rash challenges when players should have stayed on their feet.

“When we conceded in the second half we did get a little bit edgy but when you are at the bottom end of the table for so long it tends to be a bit like that. I can’t fault the players for their effort or work-rate but after playing well in the first half, it was about keeping them quiet and giving them nothing to get their teeth into. Then we gave them the incentive of a penalty and got everybody up for it. Then we got back into the game at 2-2 and I thought ‘right, let’s see it out, get a point, it is a good result here’ but we couldn’t do that.”

Motherwell counterpart Staurt McCall admitted he felt sorry for Hibs in them having come away with nothing after putting so much into a “cracking”, “open” match. He hailed hat-trick scorer Michael Higdon, who sandwiched a thunderous overhead kick between two penalty conversions. “Even if he hadn’t scored, I would have said he did everything a centre-forward should. I think the groundsman will still be filling in the hole where he hit the overhead kick. I worried for his back, his neck, his everything when I saw him cranking up for it.”

McCall refused to contemplate overhauling Rangers, who are now only three points above his side, with an assignment at Celtic Park awaiting them this weekend. Instead, he concentrated on the fact that Hearts and St Johnstone are now 12 points behind his Motherwell side. “We’ve lost 4-0 each time we have played at Celtic in my time, I hope with our current form we can give a better account of ourselves. But there is no more difficult game for us,” McCall said.