BY IAIN COLLIN – @IainCollin
Alan Stubbs insists he cannot defend his Hibernian players after their defeat to Raith Rovers at the weekend and has told them there can be ‘no excuses’ for their shoddy performance.
Stubbs has backed his squad to the hilt this season but appears to have run out of patience following a fourth consecutive league loss.
The Easter Road outfit were blighted by a dangerous combination of slack defending and woeful finishing at Stark’s Park as they remained six points adrift of second-placed Falkirk with just two games in hand and Stubbs has warned some players are in danger of losing their starting places.
They should have pulled level when top scorer Jason Cummings somehow struck the underside of the crossbar with an astonishing miss from barely two yards out and Chris Dagnall also hit the post with a late header.
But, in the wake of Championship defeats to Morton, Dumbarton and Queen of the South, Stubbs has confessed Saturday’s costly reverse is hard to stomach.
He commented: “We’ve contributed significantly to our downfall. We’ve not defended and at the other end we’ve missed gilt-edged chances, which I’m afraid you just can’t miss.
“You can’t keep saying ‘well, we’ve had this chance and that chance, and we should have done better’.
“The simple matter of the fact is, do your jobs.
“The jobs are to defend and keep clean sheets, and to score goals. They didn’t do that and that’s the reason we’ve lost the game.
“There’s no point looking for excuses all the time, because if you want an excuse you’ll find one.
“And there’s no excuses. The reason we didn’t win the game is we haven’t defended properly.
“I’ll defend the players all day long but, when they’re not performing and they keep making the same mistakes, I can’t defend them.
“I’ll obviously never individually criticise anybody.
“But, as a team, and as individuals, we need to do better.
“And I can’t keep saying the same things, because that means the same mistakes are going to happen all the time, and that can’t be the case.”
Hibs have won just one of their last seven matches and suffered the devastating blow of losing their recent League Cup final against Ross County in heartbreaking circumstances.
The capital outfit now face a huge task in trying to wrestle second place in the Championship back from Falkirk after the Bairns stunned league leaders Rangers with Friday night’s dramatic victory.
Hibs have a Scottish Cup semi-final against Dundee United to look forward to next month but the chances of them achieving their number one priority of promotion back to the Premiership is looking a longer shot with every passing week.
Stubbs added on Hibernian TV: “They’ve been good at times and they’ve been very good for lots of times this season.
“But, right now, I’m not in the mood for them making mistakes at one end and making mistakes at the other end, it’s as simple as that.
“Even the lads in midfield, there were too many below-average performances (on Saturday).”