Hibernian manager Lee Johnson admits his team’s defeat to Motherwell was an opportunity missed as he lamented an ‘inept’ display.
The Leith side succumbed to a 3-1 defeat at home after a fine Sean Goss free kick and Kevin van Veen’s double secured the points for the Steelmen.
Kevin Nisbet made it 2-1 with a header but Hibs never looked like taking anything from the game.
The loss was compounded by the fact that third-placed Hearts, who are five points better off, were also defeated. Hibs are now also only one point clear of the split line in sixth.
Johnson, who served a one-game dugout ban against Motherwell, said: “Really poor, I didn’t see it coming, if I’m honest.
“I wasn’t in the dressing room before the game because I’m not allowed to be but I suppose I have to hold my hands up and take responsibility for that.
“I did all I could in terms of personnel and shape changes in a bid to get us a foothold but you’ve got to give Motherwell credit for their performance.
“I really did feel that there was an opportunity there and it’s a massive opportunity missed given the other results – even though we can’t expect other results to look after us.
“We have to look after our own performances and build our performances. It’s just an inept technical and tactical performance.
“We’ve got to perform well and build the performance. Watching that today, I didn’t see our identity. I was up there, with the fans, getting a bird’s eye view and frustrated I can’t influence it from down below.
“But I just didn’t see enough from us, from individuals or as a team. I don’t want to put it on the players because I still believe in them but it makes it difficult to pick an XI for the next game.”
Johnson, meanwhile, insists his pre-match comments about Ange Postecoglou were taken out of context by the Australian.
Postecoglou took umbrage to the fact that Johnson queried if he found Scottish football too “easy”, such is the Bhoys’ form this season.
He added: “I saw that. It didn’t sit well with me but I don’t know how it was framed to him.
“That was not the intention or the tone. But we all know how a nibble is seduced by the wrong context. I have nothing but respect for Celtic, Ange Postecoglou and everyone else.
“But maybe he’s used it as a bit of a sharpener for his own team.”
Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell, meanwhile, insists his team merited all three points.
Kettlewell has guided Motherwell nine points clear of relegation danger with four wins and a draw from six games in charge.
He said: “I felt it was a deserved win. We were very good in the first half and we started the second half well.
“But the biggest takeaway for me was when we conceded a goal against nothing really.
“Hibs didn’t have much in the game but we showed good character to manage the game and stay in the position we wanted to be in. Then the third goal gave us a bit more comfort.
“But coming away to Easter Road and getting a 3-1 win and being as comfortable as it was for spells was good for us.”