Lennon laments men­tal frailty after vis­i­tors’ fight­back

The Herald on Sunday - - SPORT - BY DAR­REN JOHN­STONE

HIBER­NIAN man­ager Neil Lennon crit­i­cised a Jekyll and Hyde per­for­mance after watch­ing his team re­lin­quish a two-goal lead against the Pre­mier­ship base­ment side.

The Leith out­fit were on course to rack up an em­phatic vic­tory after tak­ing con­trol in­side half-an-hour cour­tesy of a Genseric Kusunga own goal and a Ryan Por­te­ous header.

How­ever, Dundee man­aged to re­cover by find­ing the net within three min­utes ei­ther side of the break through Kenny Miller and Paul McGowan.

Lennon, whose team ended a three-game scor­ing drought but are now with­out a win in five games, ad­mits a lack of qual­ity on the ball and a men­tal fragility cost the hosts.

“It’s symp­to­matic of the spell we’re go­ing through at the minute,” he said. “We don’t put teams away and we’ve con­ceded two poor goals by switch­ing off. Some se­nior play­ers are not play­ing at the level they could be and my strik­ers aren’t func­tion­ing at the minute ei­ther.

“It’s a cul­mi­na­tion of things. It’s frus­trat­ing but it’s part of foot­ball and we need to get back to be­ing strong men­tally be­cause that’s what we were good at for a long pe­riod of time and we’re lack­ing that at the minute.”

Hibs went ahead after 40 sec­onds when Kusunga glanced a header into his own net. The Dundee de­fender was stretch­ing to cut out Daryl Hor­gan’s cross with Flo Kam­beri ready to pounce but could only steer the ball past Jack Hamil­ton.

The vis­i­tors de­fended des­per­ately and also rode their luck as they some­how avoided not fall­ing fur­ther be­hind dur­ing a dom­i­nant start from Hibs. How­ever, there was no stop­ping Por­te­ous’ pow­er­ful header from a Ste­vie Mal­lan free-kick as Hibs dou­bled their lead after 30 min­utes.

A first win in five league games seemed a cer­tainty for Hibs but Dundee pro­duced a rous­ing come­back. Miller gave Dundee a foothold with a se­cond goal in two games in first- half in­jury- time, pok­ing in Nathan Ralph’s cross from six yards.

There was fur­ther joy for the 488 Dundee fans in­side Easter Road when McGowan lev­elled in the 47th minute. Jesse Cur­ran took the ball off the feet of Mark Mil­li­gan and fed McGowan. The mid­fielder stepped back on to his left foot be­fore curl­ing an ef­fort into the far cor­ner of the net.

Both teams pushed for a win­ner but had to set­tle for a share of the spoils.

Dundee man­ager Jim McIn­tyre said: “We got off to the worst pos­si­ble start.

“After t he se­cond goal we dis­ap­peared a wee bit and looked frag­ile but we man­aged to get that all-im­por­tant goal that gave us a bit of be­lief back.” BY MARK WALKER A SEN­SA­TIONAL 40-yard strike from Adam Ham­mill set Saints up to hand Oran Kear­ney his first league vic­tory as man­ager as they se­cured their first win since the first day of the sea­son. But, for Hearts, it surely killed off any last lin­ger­ing ti­tle chal­lenge hopes as they failed to score for the fifth game in a row.

The Pais­ley side took full ad­van­tage of a Hearts side who look short in num­bers and con­fi­dence and have been un­able to re­cover from the loss of four ma­jor play­ers.

How­ever, all the praise should be heaped on to Saints and 30-year-old Scouser Ham­mill, who fol­lowed up his bril­liant open­ing goal with a cool fin­ish to dou­ble St Mir­ren’s lead and end the con­test.

Ham­mill said: “It’s al­ways nice to score a goal like that, es­pe­cially from such a dis­tance. But as long as the team win that’s the most im­por­tant thing.

“It’s up there with the best goal I’ve ever scored. To be hon­est, I turned and the space just opened up and in my head I thought that if I looped a vol­ley it might cause havoc with the lights for the keeper. For­tu­nately that’s what hap­pened and it went in the back of the net.

“You could try that maybe 50 times and it will go in Row Z or over the stand, but it went in to­day.”

There was re­lief, too, for Kear­ney who fi­nally was able to cel­e­brate his first league win since suc­ceed­ing Alan Stubbs this sea­son.

He said: “It feels good. The jour­ney our guys have been on since I’ve been at the club ... it’s nice to fi­nally get some­thing to show for it.

“Pre-game I had a good feel­ing to­day was the day they were go­ing to de­liver and, to a man, they did.

“We’ve been on a run of bad luck and de­cent per­for­mances, but we haven’t had the re­sult to go with it. Our lads have tried to deal with de­feat after de­feat and have shown char­ac­ter. Now we’re hope­ful this will be a good re­lease for them.”

Hearts re­ally should have been a goal up in the fourth minute after Steven MacLean peeled away from his marker to get on the end of Michael Smith’s deep cross, but the

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