Last week against Hearts, Lee Johnson’s men had moments of real ascendancy but also spells when they totally fell out of the match. Martin Boyle’s 95th-minute goal rescued them a point. There was to be no such redemption on Saturday at Livingston, where they lost 2-1, their first cinch Premiership defeat of the campaign.
Hibs were utterly dreadful in the first half. Joel Nouble opened the scoring after six minutes, a goal borne out of a slack pass from Marijan Cabraja and then some powderpuff tackling from Paul Hanlon. Nouble ought to have scored again, denied by a good save from David Marshall. Livingston dominated. Hibs could not trouble the Lions defence. Winger Jair Tavares was so ineffective that he was hooked at the break, replaced by Boyle.
Lee Johnson’s half-time team-talk was sharp. Hibs were a different team in the second period, equalising on 51 minutes via Nohan Kenneh and forcing a dozen corners as they pinned Livingston back. They could not find the knock-out blow and were then hit by the ultimate sucker punch when Ayo Obileye powered home a header, left unmarked from a good Sean Kelly delivery.
“You could see the difference in the second half,” Kenneh said. “Obviously we got told we were not good enough and that was the hard truth we needed to hear. We should be like that in the first half.
“The manager can be totally different. He can call you out if you are playing badly. We know his personality but he’s got an edge to him and if you cross the line he’ll tell you.
“The first half wasn’t good enough, but we’ve already said that so often this season. It’s killing us. First ten, 15 minutes we’re losing goals then we have to really go for it.
“Second half here we really improved and could maybe have had another couple of goals, but we’ve ended up losing one at the end.
“Everyone’s sitting in the dressing-room saying that it doesn’t have to be this way. We need to be bang on from the first minute. It’s just not good enough – and I’m not making any excuses, like we’re a new team and it’ll take time.
“Every game has to matter, every point has to matter. It’s our livelihoods, everyone has families to look after.”
Rangers are up next for Hibs, where more resolve will have to be shown. On the positive side, Elie Youan once again played well and will cause opponents all manner of problems with his pace and trickery.
Livingston now have six points from nine games – having already played Rangers – and Obileye is targeting a top-six place, which is not beyond them.
"My aim is top six,” said the defender. “The club would like top six too but first and foremost we want to stay in the league. But personally I am pushing myself and everyone else in the team to finish as high as possible and that means top six.
"We play great football at times. But the style of this club and the way we work here is all about heart and desire. We work hard, we press, we are aggressive. That's what we do."