Caretaker manager David Gray has told the Hibernian players they will be judged in their remaining three games this season.
The Easter Road side slipped to eighth in the Premiership with defeat to Livingston following Scott Pittman’s winner 11 minutes into the second half.
It was yet another frustrating performance from Hibs, who managed 18 shots at goal but failed to get one on target, and have now won only two of their last 15 league games.
With the club hierarchy expected to this week step up their search for a new manager, Gray remains convinced that he and coach Eddie May can still guide the team to finish top of the bottom
However, he has warned there can be no slacking off as the fixtures count down.
“The objective is to finish seventh and we can still do that,” he said.
“It’s within our capabilities and it’s up to the players to come up with a reaction. Eddie and I will be working as hard as we can to get that.
“It’s important to finish the season as strongly as you can.
“As a football player, you’re always being judged.
“If you’re not putting it in towards the end of the season then people start to question your character or determination.
“It’s important every time you pull the jersey on that you apply yourself as hard as you can to the best of your ability.”
Livingston started brightly but Hibs quickly took control and looked most likely to find the breakthrough.
Wing-back Harry Clarke headed over and sliced a shot wide before Josh Doig’s shot was cleared from inside a crowded six-yard box by Livi skipper Nicky Devlin.
The home side finished the half strongly, however, and Joel Nouble might have done better with a weak header over the advancing Matt Macey that Paul Hanlon was able to clear.
The crucial opener arrived in the 57th minute. Andrew Shinnie darted into space on the left side of the box and brilliantly picked out Pittman arriving at the edge of the area. The midfielder
rifled his shot into the roof of the net.
It was the 29-year-old 124th Premiership appearance for the West Lothian outfit – a new club record – and it was a fitting way to celebrate the milestone.
He still has a year left on his contract but manager David Martindale fully expects the stalwart, who is currently in his eighth season at Almondvale, to agree an extension.
“Pitts will sign, no bother,” Martindale said. “He’s got a year after this on his contract but to take him to his testimonial year he needs another year.
“I’ll speak to the agent and I’ll speak to Pitts.
“He’s one of those players who is a good fit. You’ve seen boys move over the years and it doesn’t quite work out when they go to other clubs.
“He’s in a club where he’s loved, he’s valued and he brings a lot to this football club, and I think he knows that and he’s comfortable here.
“There’s a lot to be said for that loyalty.”