Hibs boss proud of players for sticking to plan against Celtic

Hibs boss celebrated solid clean sheet.
Hibs boss celebrated solid clean sheet.

Nick Montgomery said he was proud of his players as they bounced back from their Ibrox loss by holding Celtic to a goalless draw at Easter Road.

And he said a precious point earned against the league leaders proves he’s right to stick with a gameplan given such a pasting by critics in the wake of their 4-0 defeat to Rangers.

Monty said: “I am extremely proud of the effort the boys put in against a team that went toe to toe with Atletico Madrid in midweek.

“I watched that game and thought they were excellent. I thought today we contained a lot of their threats and were resolute when we needed to be.

“In terms of us attacking, I thought we had the best chance of the game, other than Celtic hitting the crossbar.

“I cannot fault the boys’ effort and I thought at times we played some good stuff. I thought the boys were brave and courageous.

“Second half, we fixed a few problems from the first half. We weren’t quite seeing the pictures.

“I have nothing but praise for them, because it is not easy containing a team of that quality. I thought we did that really well, even if there were a couple of moments where we could maybe have chosen a better option.

“Limiting them to four shots on target shows how well we did because they are a very, very good team.”

Backing his belief in a 4-4-2 formation that saw Hibs bravely play out from the goalkeeper under extreme pressure, Montgomery admitted: “It is a work in progress. I am six, seven games in and we have shown some great improvement.

“I want to be a team that plays out from the back. We don’t have any strikers that are six foot seven. That is not the way I want us to play.

“All credit to the boys for following the game plan. There were a few hairy moments - but we created them ourselves by not seeing the pictures.

“We fixed that at half time, pushed the full backs higher and once we got into that final third, we probably just need that bit more quality and composure to find a pass.”

Insisting the result could have been even better, had Martin Boyle converted a Jordan Obita delivery early in the second half, Montgomery – celebrating his 42nd birthday – said: “Probably the best chance of the game, fantastic cross from Jordan.

“Nine times out of ten Boyley scores that. He maybe anticipated that was going to bounce instead of catching it on the full. If he catches it on the full, then it is the back of the net.

“He will be disappointed with that - but a draw is a fair result against a top-class team and a coach, in Brendan Rodgers, who I have followed for a long time.

“I played against his teams, and they were always good footballing teams who liked to keep the ball and dominate with the ball.

“It was good to coach against him today. They are a very exciting team with a lot of quality.”

Hibs play Ross County at Easter Road on Tuesday, before turning their attention to next weekend’s Viaplay Cup semi-final against Aberdeen at Hampden.

“The boys will be in tomorrow and we will review the game - the good things and the things we can improve on,” said Montgomery.

“Momentum is something people talk about and it is something we have started to build.

“Last week we had a disappointing result, we didn’t do well in transition moments. The difference today was we all defended really well and as a team. That is why we came out with a clean sheet and a point against arguably the best team in the competition.”