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Daily Record
Daily Record
Fraser Wilson

Lee Johnson blasts Hibs players for 'soul destroying' 20 minutes that handed St Johnstone three points

Lee Johnson blasted his Hibs side for serving up a 20-minute video nasty as VAR made it’s debut in their 2-1 defeat to St Johnstone on Friday night.

The Hibees were coasting towards three points to cement their position in third before Kyle Magennis was needlessly sent off on 70 minutes - sparking a 20-minute capitulation. Goals from Nicky Clark and Stevie May turned the game on it’s head after Mykola Kuharevich’s opener to end Saints ’ three game losing run and make it three defeats on the spin for the Hibees.

All eyes had been on the new video assistant referee technology on an historic night for Scottish football. But while Johnson had no issue with the tech he labelled the flop in front of a capacity crowd “soul destroying”. He said: “It’s a hard one to take. Games last 96 minutes and you have to make good decisions for 96 minutes.

“We made very good decisions in the first half and were the dominant side. We got our spirit of attack and press back.

“Where we fall short of too many occasions is that final ball. Then you’re always at the mercy of a momentum swing. Whether that’s a key decision like a sending off, a mistake or a piece of individual brilliance.

“Up to 70 minutes if it had been two or three nil everyone would have understood. I don't think the numerical advantage had any effect on the goals they scored. You have got to defend crosses. For their first one, Porto is convinced he took one in the back.

“He does take one in the back, there's no doubt in that, but even with bias it looks a little bit soft to be giving us a foul. It’s difficult because how do we really know how much force went into that? There are two hands in the lower back but it doesn't look like enough force for VAR to change the decision, which is clearly what happened.

“Kyle is gutted, he is devastated. You would be, I have been in that situation myself as a player.

“And that's where you need your team-mates, that's where you need the boys to rally round and nick a 1-0 win and defend with their lives. That's the disappointing thing, we haven't been able to hold on to that and conceded pretty quickly and pretty tamely on two occasions.

“We were in complete control and through our own individual errors we then cause ourselves big problems. And that's what happens in football, momentum swings and you can't swing it back, particularly when you are down to 10 men.

“That was the bit that was just soul-destroying for us. We wanted to send those 19,500 Hibs fans home happy and we haven't done, even though in the cold light of day they will probably come back because of the way we played in that first 70 minutes.”

Saints boss Davidson hailed his players - and paid tribute to goalkeeper Remi Matthews for a string of saves to tee up their smash and grab. Davidson said: “First half was as angry as I’ve been since I’ve been in charge.

“We were really poor and I asked for a reaction. The substitutions and the sending off off helped. We controlled the game well and I’m absolutely delighted to get the three points for that great travelling support.

“Remi has been outstanding since he’s been here, my big thing is that we don’t talk about Zander Clark too much, which is great news because it means the goalie is doing really well, He is a great character. Tonight in the first half he helped us to win this game.

“I thought VAR was okay. I thought the referees did really well and tried to get the game going as quickly as possible.”

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