Nick Montgomery admitted finishing in the bottom six is unacceptable for Hibernian after seeing his side surrender a late lead against Motherwell at Fir Park.

Hibs’ prospects looked optimistic as they were set to move one point ahead of Dundee into sixth in the Scottish Premiership as they led Motherwell 1-0 courtesy of Myziane Maolida’s 64th-minute penalty.

But Shane Blaney fired home a thunderous equaliser in the last minute of added time with Motherwell’s first shot on target as both teams saw their top-six hopes came to an end.

The travelling supporters were furious and vented their anger towards the Hibs players and staff at full-time and Montgomery understands their frustrations.

“It’s not good enough for Hibs,” he said.

“You have to earn the right to get anywhere in football. You have to earn the right to get into the top six. As a club we have failed to hit one of our targets and that was the top six.

“The other two were progress in the cups, which we did to a good level. But the big target was to try and get into the top six. I’ve tried everything I can to get there.

“We’ve had stuff that’s probably been challenging for us, but as a club, yeah, we have to look back at the start of the season, before pre-season, and how we’ve ended up in this position where we’re going into the last game 20 seconds away from the top six.

“It’s 20 seconds away from not being good enough and unfortunately the results – last week as well – have gone against us and it’s really hard to explain how that’s happened.”

Motherwell boss Stuart Kettlewell praised the mentality of his side after another late goal salvaged a draw.

And they could even have won it at the death but Oli Shaw fired wide from a few yards out.

“I thought we snatched it at the end,” said Kettlewell. “It’s probably no surprise to myself or anyone in the room as we’ve become renowned this season for playing to the last whistle.

“We want to be ahead in games but we always rally and we have four strikers and two attackers on the pitch at the end – it was all out attack.

“I thought Oli had put the ball in the net, that was my gut instinct, when he got across the front post. But we left it late over the course for the top six but I can only credit my players.

“People had written us off for the top six and looked at us more towards the bottom of the table but we’ve shown brilliant personality and picked up points.”

Motherwell and Hibernian saw their top-six hopes ended following a high-stakes encounter at Fir Park where the Steelmen snatched a late equaliser in a thrilling finale.

Shane Blaney struck deep into stoppage time to earn a 1-1 draw for the hosts after Myziane Maolida had put Hibernian ahead with a 65th-minute penalty.

Both sides entered the encounter with aspirations of finishing in the top six with Motherwell needing a win to have any chance of catching sixth-placed Dundee.

A draw could have sufficed for Hibs – if Dundee lost their last two games – but it ultimately was not enough as Dundee picked up a point against Aberdeen to secure their top-six place ahead of facing Rangers on Wednesday night.

Hibs looked comfortable at Fir Park after taking the lead through Maolida’s second-half penalty but Blaney killed their dreams at the death with a thunderous left-footed finish beyond David Marshall.

Motherwell should have won it just 30 seconds later when Oli Shaw somehow diverted the ball wide from yards out but the result left the Hibs support furious as they made their discontent known towards the players at full-time.

The wind caused havoc for both sides on a blustery afternoon in Lanarkshire and there was a distinct lack of quality on show but a three-minute spell in the second half was pivotal.

Motherwell had the ball in the net through the in-form Theo Bair after 62 minutes following a sublime turn and pass from Lennon Miller but it was ruled out for offside with VAR backing up the linesman’s initial decision.

And just two minutes later, Hibernian were awarded a penalty when Stephen O’Donnell clumsily connected with Will Fish as he attempted to turn and Willie Collum did not hesitate to point to the spot.

Maolida stepped up confidently and rolled the ball past Liam Kelly in front of an ecstatic away support.

However, those same fans were left far from happy at the end following Blaney’s late intervention.

Chances were at a premium in the first half with Chris Cadden coming closest for the visitors when Liam Kelly tipped his powerful effort over the bar while Motherwell failed to click as an attacking threat.

Hibs, however, had the better opportunities after the break with Emiliano Hansen failing to connect properly with a dangerous fizzed cross from Nathan Moriah-Welsh before Elie Youan fired tamely at Kelly just minutes later.

There was a flashpoint after 56 minutes when Rocky Bushiri went down in the box with the travelling contingent screaming for a penalty but ref Collum was unmoved.

The experienced referee booked the Hibs centre-back before a flare-up ensued between both sets of players with Blair Spittal and Martin Boyle also cautioned for their involvement.

Philippe Clement hailed the “amazing” achievement of James Tavernier after the Rangers captain broke the British goalscoring record for defenders in the 3-1 win over Hibernian at Ibrox.

Light Blues winger Scott Wright had the ball in the net in the 21st minute after Hibs keeper David Marshall saved a Tavernier penalty but was penalised for encroachment.

However,  the 32-year-old Gers full-back, who joined the Light Blues in 2015, made amends by firing in his 22nd goal of the season and his 131st in total, taking him past former Preston, Burnley and Scotland defender Graham Alexander, who scored 130.

In the second minute of added time Myziane Maolida levelled, only for Gers striker Cyriel Dessers to put the Gers back in front with a header before the interval.

Substitute Rabbi Matondo drove in a third in the 85th minute to take the Light Blues two points ahead of Celtic at the top of the cinch Premiership.

Clement, who described the victory as “very satisfying”, said: “It’s an amazing achievement, especially as he still has a couple of years to go so he can only make this record bigger and bigger.

“If you speak about the full history of football then you cannot imagine how many good defenders and how many defenders with good attacking qualities who have played the game.

“To be there on top – it’s an amazing achievement and we’re all proud of him. I said it in the dressing room also after the game.

“I don’t too often point out individual players, I don’t like it too much, but I had to do it this time.

“All the players are really proud of him, all the staff and the fans and everybody involved with Rangers. It’s really quite exceptional.”

Tavernier described his achievement as “crazy”.

He said: “If you would have told me when I first jumped into professional football that I would have a chance to become the highest-scoring British defender in history I would not have believed you.

“That is down to all the team-mates I have played with over the years who have helped me through the journey. I will just continue working hard and see how many I can get until I hang my boots up a long way down the line.”

Celtic have the chance to reclaim top spot at Livingston on Sunday before they visit Govan next week.

Clement is confident but does not believe the match is a title decider.

He said: “I’m confident we can win against everybody. Are we at our best now? No. We had all the injuries and some players are not there at their best yet.

“But I also know that we can win that game and we have the quality to do that.

“It’s also not the decisive ending game of the season. We still have eight games to go.”

Hibs boss Nick Montgomery had no complaints about the result.

He said: “I thought in patches we played good football but not good enough today.

“Against quality opposition you have to do the basics well and stop crosses, pick up in the box and block shots at the edge of the box.”

Rangers climbed back to the top of the cinch Premiership with a 3-1 win over Hibernian at Ibrox which had its fair of thrills and spills.

Scott Wright thought he had put Rangers ahead in the 21st minute when he slotted home after visiting keeper David Marshall had saved a James Tavernier penalty, but the Light Blues winger was penalised for encroachment and the effort was disallowed.

The home side did not have to wait much longer to get their noses in front though, with Gers skipper Tavernier making amends for his miss by firing in his 22nd goal of the season.

Myziane Maolida poked in a shock equaliser on the stroke of half-time, but Gers responded immediately with Cyriel Dessers putting the home side back in front with a header before the interval.

Second-half substitute Rabbi Matondo then drove in a wonderful third goal in the 85th minute to take Rangers two points ahead of Celtic having both played 30 fixtures.

The Hoops travel to bottom side Livingston on Sunday firm favourites to get the win which will set up nicely for next week’s Old Firm derby at Ibrox.

Every passing week brings more tension to the title race and Philippe Clement’s side knew what was at stake.

The Govan side, with left-back Borna Barisic and midfielder Todd Cantwell reinstated, took an immediate grip of the game against the unchanged Easter Road outfit.

Wright fired a shot just wide from the edge of the box then saw his close-range effort from a Dessers cut-back blocked by Hibs defender Jordan Obita before Marshall parried a long-range effort from Mohamed Diomande.

However, referee David Dickinson was then asked by VAR Andrew Dallas to check his pitchside monitor for a possible foul by Hibs’ Nectarios Triantis, with his arm on Gers defender John Souttar at a previous corner and he pointed to the spot.

Marshall blocked Tavernier’s penalty – as he had at Easter Road in the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup earlier this month – but Wright followed up to hammer in the rebound, only for VAR to confirm he had encroached and a free-kick was given to the visitors.

Five minutes later, Tavernier made up for his mistake when he volleyed in from 16 yards after John Lundstram’s cross had only been partially cleared, with Hibs defender Will Fish unable to keep the ball out.

Seven minutes were added on at the end of the first half and Hibs took advantage to level. Elie Youan set up fellow attacker Maolida inside the box and he beat Connor Goldson, got in front of Tavernier and prodded the ball past Jack Butland.

Tension immediately engulfed Ibrox but that was alleviated in the sixth minute of added time when Dessers, who had moments earlier saw an effort saved by Marshall, headed a Cantwell cross in off the bar.

Hibs had to withstand more pressure at the start of the second half with Marshall making saves from Cantwell and Dessers but at 2-1 there was still underlying anxiety among Gers fans, erupting when Dessers failed to hit the target from eight yards from a Tavernier cut-back.

The game flattened out for a spell as both sides used their respective benches to change things up.

In the 77th minute Gers substitute Tom Lawrence opted to cut the ball back instead of shooting when through on the angle against Marshall and a glorious chance was gone.

However, another Rangers replacement, Matondo, took matters into his own hands when taking possession 20 yards from goal, sending the ball fizzing past the helpless Marshall and any nerves were banished.

Hibernian manager Nick Montgomery praised his players for producing a “real professional performance” as they climbed back into the cinch Premiership top six with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Livingston.

The Leith side had the game all but wrapped up inside 22 minutes after Jordan Obita, Myziane Maolida and Adam Le Fondre found the target.

It was a long afternoon for the Lions as they slipped 10 points adrift of Ross County at the foot of the table.

Montgomery, whose team are now two points clear of seventh-placed Dundee, who face Rangers on Sunday, said: “That was an enjoyable afternoon – three points, three goals and a clean sheet, a real professional performance in a game everyone expected to win.

“We were playing a Livingston team who are really fighting hard for Davie Martindale, you could see that, and they fought in the second half to keep us out, kept battling right to the end.

“I’m probably a bit disappointed we didn’t get a couple more goals. But we have to be pleased with the result after a tough week, a long trip home from Ross County after a tiring game on a soft pitch.

“It’s always nice to be in the top six. But we can’t get carried away with what could be, what should be.

“We go into that break now on the back of six games undefeated. We have to take that momentum into the break, recover a few boys, get a few back from injury, and give everything we can between now and the end of the season.”

Obita got Hibs up and running after five minutes when he tapped in before Maolida swept home a second from close range two minutes later.

Le Fondre made it three when he got on the end of an Elie Youan cross.

Livingston’s preparations for the game had been hampered by a bug which forced boss Martindale to cancel training on Tuesday.

And he admitted some members of his team were still feeling the effects of illness at Easter Road.

Martindale said: “I’m not trying to make excuses for the players or for me because I take full responsibility.

“But we had to shut the club this week due to flu. That wasn’t an ideal start to the week.

“There were two or three boys with it you’ve asked to play.

“It was painful in the first 20 minutes.”

Hibernian moved back into the cinch Premiership’s top six with an emphatic 3-0 win at home to Livingston.

Jordan Obita, Myziane Maolida and Adam Le Fondre were on target within the first 22 minutes as the hosts blew away their struggling visitors.

Livingston were in danger of suffering an even heavier loss but managed to regroup to at least put up a fight for the rest of the game.

The result left Hibs two points clear of Dundee, who face Rangers on Sunday, in sixth place.

Bottom side Livingston, who were hit by a bug that swept through the squad earlier in the week, slipped 10 points behind second-bottom Ross County and now seem certain to be playing Championship football next season.

The hosts flew out of the blocks as they stormed into a commanding two-goal lead inside seven minutes.

Livingston had barely had a touch of the ball by the time Obita stroked home the first after five minutes, such was the home side’s dominance.

Nectar Triantis burst forward from midfield and found Le Fondre in the box.

The forward’s teasing pass was cut out by Jamie Brandon at the front post, but Obita was left with a simple tap-in.

There was no let-up from Hibs and they soon doubled their lead.

Joe Newell’s pass picked out Elie Youan and the Frenchman’s square ball was tucked away by Maolida from 12 yards.

Any game plan Livingston had of trying to frustrate Hibs was ripped up and even at such an early stage the game appeared set to become a damage limitation exercise for the away team.

To Livingston’s credit, they regained some sort of composure and at least asked questions of the Hibs defence by getting crosses into the box.

The third goal from Hibs in the 22nd minute actually came when Livingston were on the attack.

Chris Cadden led the counter and found Youan with a sliding pass and the forward’s ball across the box was gratefully dispatched by Le Fondre.

Livingston goalkeeper Shamal George denied Hibs a fourth before the break when he pushed Le Fondre’s stinging drive from an angle behind for a corner.

Livingston at least got a shot away in the second half when Mo Sangare saw his effort tipped behind by substitute goalkeeper Jojo Wollacott.

But the second period was largely a non-event as Hibs eased their way to the points.

Hibernian boss Nick Montgomery was left furious that a refereeing mistake cost his side all three points against Ross County.

Hibs had come from behind to lead, with Myziane Maolida and Adam Le Fondre scoring after Josh Sims’ opener, only for Yan Dhanda to strike with practically the final kick of the game and rescue a 2-2 draw for County.

Montgomery, though, felt that the final goal stemmed from a County throw-in that should have gone Hibs’ way, and was frustrated that what he saw as a mistake by the officials proved so costly to his team.

“We just lost two points we shouldn’t have lost,” he said.

“We dominated the game in the second half and got back into the game, and should have won it.

“A Ross County defender heads it out for our throw-in. I think everyone can see that, and their defender starts heading backwards – but somehow they pick up another ball 10 yards down the pitch, throw it back in and we concede.

“We have to pick out several moments for not defending that, but we lose two points and it’s really disappointing and frustrating.

“We have to be responsible for not defending our box, even though we should not have had to.

“We should be good enough to win anyway, but we also should not have to defend the throw-in.

“We’ve got another game before the international break at home, so we’ll prepare for that now and aim to get three points on Saturday.”

Montgomery’s opposite number Don Cowie, meanwhile, felt County showed plenty of character to come back and salvage a point when it looked as though they would come away empty-handed.

“It backs up what I already know about the character of the group,” Cowie said.

“It looked like the game had got away from us, but you have to keep going. That point could be invaluable come the end of the season.

“We’re disappointed to let our lead slip from half-time, but we showed great character to get a point in the end.

“That’s the last three home games where I’ve felt comfortable at half-time, so it’s something I’ve got to look at.

“Naturally the opposition is going to respond, but we need to be ready for that and we need to get better at that.”

Yan Dhanda scored a last-gasp equaliser as relegation-threatened Ross County secured a 2-2 draw against Hibernian in the cinch Premiership.

The Staggies had gone in front in the 43rd minute through Josh Sims, who was left with a tap-in at the back post from Simon Murray’s cross, but Hibs powered back through goals from Myziane Maolida and then Adam Le Fondre.

That was not all, though, as in the ninth minute of added time Dhanda popped up to convert Murray’s cross and salvage a point for the hosts in Dingwall.

County had what looked like a golden opportunity to break the deadlock in the first half when they got a three-on-one advantage inside the Hibs half.

Sims, however, could not pick out Eamonn Brophy in the middle – a moment that summed up the goal threat in the match to that point.

Hibernian suffered a blow when Lewis Miller was forced off through injury around 10 minutes before the interval, but they tried not to let that hamper them too much, with Will Fish sending the next attempt at goal wide of the mark before Maolida forced George Wickens to dive to his right to keep the ball away from goal.

Just a couple of minutes before the interval, though, the Staggies took the lead.

Murray’s cross was initially aimed towards Connor Randall, but when David Marshall came out to try and collect it the ball flew past everyone to Sims, who was left with a tap-in at the back post.

The lead was relatively short-lived, with Hibs pulling back level within 10 minutes of the restart.

Elie Youan slipped Maolida through on goal, and much like in the last match between the two sides he made no mistake in slotting past Wickens.

The visitors dominated possession in the second half, making it difficult for County to reply, and so it was perhaps no surprise when Hibs took the lead in the 77th minute.

Jordan Obita put in an inch perfect cross for substitute Le Fondre, who duly converted at the back post.

There was one final twist in the tale though as, with practically the last kick of the ball, Dhanda announced his return from injury by finding the bottom corner.

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.”

Myziane Maolida and substitute Dylan Levitt struck in the second half as Hibernian defeated relegation-threatened Ross County 2-0 at Easter Road to climb into the top six of the cinch Premiership.

The home support had to be patient as County kept them at bay until a mistake from goalkeeper George Wickens gifted them the opener just before the hour mark.

The victory extended Hibs’ unbeaten run in all competitions to five games and allowed them to move above Dundee and back into the top half of the table. County remain second bottom, six points clear of last-placed Livingston.

Hibs boss Nick Montgomery named the same side that started Wednesday’s 1-1 draw away to city rivals Hearts.

There were two changes to the County team that started Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at home to St Mirren as James Brown and Jack Baldwin replaced Loick Ayina and Simon Murray.

Despite their lowly league position, the Staggies settled well into the match and kept their hosts at arm’s length early on.

The only time they looked in any real danger in the first half was in the 17th minute when Wickens had to make an impressive double save to deny Maolida and then Emiliano Marcondes.

At the other end, midfielder Victor Loturi created an opportunity for himself in the 25th minute when he intercepted a slack pass from Marcondes inside the centre circle and surged forward towards the edge of the box but his shot was beaten away by goalkeeper David Marshall.

Hibs made a change for the start of the second half as Levitt came on for Nathan Moriah-Welsh in central midfield.

Within a minute of the restart, the Edinburgh side almost went ahead when Maolida slipped a pass into the box and Marcondes sent a low shot towards goal from 10 yards but Wickens was equal to it.

The hosts fashioned another opening when Martin Boyle – after being released down the right by Lewis Miller – cut the ball back perfectly for Dylan Vente but the forward chose to dummy it on the edge of the six-yard box and the opportunity was gone.

Another delivery from the right led to the deadlock being broken in the 59th minute. Vente ran on to a pass from Levitt and whipped in a low cross that was spilled on the edge of the six-yard box by Wickens and Maolida reacted quickest to poke home the loose ball for his fourth goal since arriving from Hertha Berlin in January.

County almost equalised in the 71st minute when Brandon Khela’s ball in from the left found Eamonn Brophy in a central position seven yards out but the striker’s effort was brilliantly kept out by Marshall.

Levitt sealed the win in the 86th minute when he received a pass from fellow substitute Elie Youan just outside the box, advanced towards goal and slotted low past Wickens from 13 yards.

Myziane Maolida scored a late winning goal in a 2-1 victory to lift Hibernian to within two points of opponents Dundee in the battle for a cinch Premiership top-six place.

The on-loan Hertha Berlin forward restored the home side’s lead with a fine effort in the 81st minute just moments after Luke McCowan had brought the visitors level.

Hibs had gone in at the break in front after Dylan Vente converted a penalty that came about following an error by goalkeeper Trevor Carson.

Hibs paid tribute to their late former owner Ron Gordon – a year on from his death – with a short video on the large screens inside the stadium before kick-off.

When the action got under way it was the hosts that had to soak up early pressure.

The Leith side were relieved a VAR check went their way after an Owen Beck shot inside the box struck Rocky Bushiri.

Dark Blues goalkeeper Carson made a comfortable save when he kept out Will Fish’s half volley from 12 yards out after Martin Boyle’s corner was kept alive in the box.

Fish was involved in Hibs’ next attempt at goal just after the half-hour mark when he connected with Emiliano Marcondes’ corner but Carson gathered the header at the second attempt.

Hibs then took the lead 10 minutes before the break after a rush of blood to the head for Dundee keeper Carson led to a penalty.

The experienced stopper tried to make amends after flapping at Joe Newell’s corner but he ended up clattering into Marcondes.

Vente stepped up to take the penalty and sent Carson the wrong way from 12 yards.

Hibs came close to a third before the break but Vente’s shot was blocked by team-mate Martin Boyle before Maolida had a shot pushed wide by Carson.

Dundee brought on Rickie Lamie and Michael Mellon at the break but it was Hibs who were keen to put the game to bed.

Carson produced a fine save to keep out Boyle before the Dens Park side were handed a VAR let-off.

Boyle’s cross was tapped in by Vente from inside the six-yard box but the feedback given to referee John Beaton was that he was offside.

Dundee were then denied a goal by the linesman’s flag in the 73rd minute after Mellon flicked in from close range.

The visitors did level in the 78th minute when McCowan rifled a low drive from 18 yards past David Marshall.

But Hibs restored their lead three minutes later with a Maolida strike.

The Frenchman ran on to Luke Amos’ pass and skinned Joe Shaughnessy before sweeping a shot past Carson.

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