27 July 2023

Lee Johnson insists ‘tie is not over’ after Hibernian humbled in Andorra

27 July 2023

Hibernian manager Lee Johnson called for fans to maintain belief ahead of their second leg against Inter d’Escaldes as he claimed it was too strong to describe their 2-1 defeat in Andorra an embarrassment.

Joe Newell’s stoppage-time free-kick gave Hibs a lifeline after they conceded in each half of the first leg of the Europa Conference League second qualifying round.

Johnson asked for negativity over their defeat to be kept under control ahead of next Thursday’s return leg.

“I’m super disappointed,” he said. “The word ’embarrassing’ feels strong considering the tie is not over.

“I knew, I told you guys, these are not a bad side. They remind me of my dad’s Cheltenham side when they were doing very well in League Two.

“We don’t have any given right to go and beat anybody unless we are at it.

“We have to be  on the front foot, aggressive, confident, brave and bold, and we weren’t that until we took a punch on the nose and made a couple of changes.

“Individuals have got to hold their hands up and be responsible, I have got to hold my hands up and be responsible, but what we don’t need is the tension and the tightness of the negativity to seep into the players’ performances.

“The fans have got to maintain belief. We need everyone in the second leg to give us that bolster.”

Slack defending saw Hibs fall behind in the 15th minute and they struggled to respond before Johnson brought on Christian Doidge and Newell at half-time.

Even then chances were at a premium before David Marshall spilled a weak shot after a goal kick had bounced over Lewis Stevenson’s head, and Jean-Luc doubled the home side’s lead in the 71st minute.

Hibs suddenly found some urgency to their play and Johnson could not understand where it had been at the start of the game.

“I’m majorly disappointed with the first-half performance, I thought it was really, really poor,” he said. “We didn’t acclimatise, whether that was conditions or altitude.

“The lads knew everything about the opposition, we had studied them deeply, and they were good. You have to give the Andorrans credit, they worked extremely hard.

“There were far too many unforced errors from us. You could give them credit, you could say it was good pressing.

“There were too many individual poor decisions. We should have been better in our decision-making and our execution.

“We took a bit of stick and that was fair. Second half was much better.

“I made some half-time substitutions and they did well and I thought we had opportunties to maybe even go on and win the game.

“The second goal is an absolute suckler punch, a poor couple of errors which senior players will hold their hands up to, no doubt.

“And Joe Newell’s goal really was ever so important because this is a completely different game now going back to Easter Road, big wide pitch, fans behind us.

“We have to be careful not to be too negative, certainly not in-house.”

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