SPL

Nick Montgomery urges Hibernian to maintain top-six spot

By Sports Desk March 02, 2024

Nick Montgomery watched resurgent Hibernian defeat Ross County 2-0 to climb into the top six of the cinch Premiership and then challenged them to stay there for the rest of the season.

Hibs slipped into the bottom half of the table after eight league games in a row without a victory from early December.

They were recently five points outside the top six, but the win over County, achieved through second-half goals from Myziane Maolida and substitute Dylan Levitt, made it seven points from three games over the past week and took them above Dundee and into sixth place.

Hibs are now unbeaten in five matches in all competitions and appear to be back in contention for a European place.

“We’re happy to be back in the top six and definitely won’t be complacent,” said Montgomery.

“Momentum has been building for the last couple of weeks and we have to keep performing to the standards we’ve set over the past week. It’s been a big week, three games, and we’re unfortunate not to end it with nine points.”

Montgomery admitted Hibs looked “leggy” at the end of a week in which they had also defeated Dundee and drawn away to Hearts, but he felt they were “professional” overall and well worth their victory over County.

“I think it was a well-deserved win,” he said.

“We scored the first goal and, from that point, David Marshall had one big save (from Eamonn Brophy) to keep it at 1-0.

“Then the second goal killed the game and, from then on, we had three or four more chances to score.

“The performance was really professional. We could have made it easier for ourselves, because we had a lot of chances that went begging.

“But we take 2-0 and a clean sheet against a Ross County team who came to frustrate us, with a lot of time-wasting in the first half.

“They’re fighting for their lives, so they made it really difficult for us. We had to be patient and continue playing, so it was nice to get the goals.”

County manager Don Cowie lamented the error from George Wickens that allowed Hibs to break the deadlock in the 59th minute after the on-loan Fulham goalkeeper spilled a cross from Dylan Vente, with Maolida pouncing quickest to prod home the loose ball.

“I felt the game swung on an error from our goalkeeper, unfortunately,” he said.

“He’s been excellent for us since he came to the club. He has held his hands up, it’s a pretty basic error.

“I felt at that time, 60 minutes into the game, we were starting to quieten the crowd and I was happy with where we were at that moment in the game.

“We still had enough time to obviously try and rectify the error and Eamonn (Brophy) had a good chance which he didn’t take.

“I saw enough from my team in terms of the effort and work-rate and togetherness. It’s now about trying to add a bit of quality to that.”

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    Over the course of their recent rivalry, Liverpool have had a couple of seasons where the race to the line with City has seen them miss out by just a point despite matching each other win-for-win for the majority of the run in.

    But Klopp said that experience was not necessarily as positive as onlookers may believe.

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    Three goals in their last four matches has stalled their progress with the forwards failing to take numerous opportunities they have created.

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