Dons still up for second place fight after Hibs “absolutely murdered” Derek McInnes’ side

Aberdeen's Kenny McLean at full-time on Saturday.

Boss Derek McInnes today claimed the Dons are up for the fight to secure second spot despite being “murdered” in a 2-0 loss to rivals Hibs.

McInnes accepts the Reds are now in a three-way scrap with in-form Hibs and Rangers to finish Premiership runners-up for a fourth successive season.

Tough-talking McInnes didn’t pull any punches in his assessment of the Reds’ second-half shocker and admitted they were lucky to leave Easter Road with a 2-0 loss.

He slated the lack of tackles from his lacklustre Reds in the capital as Hibs gained revenge for 4-1 and 1-0 defeats inflicted on them by the Dons this season.

Hibs have now closed the gap on Aberdeen to just five points.

Next up for McInnes’ Reds is a Pittodrie clash against league leaders Celtic on Sunday, with skipper Graeme Shinnie suspended and on-loan Hoops attacker Ryan Christie also ruled out.

McInnes said: “We don’t want to give up that second spot and aim to finish as high as we can.

“There are only 11 games to go and you cannot have too many days like that if you want to finish second at the very least.

“We want to go on the type of run that we know we are capable of.”

McInnes’ assessment of a dire second half was that the Dons were “murdered” by Hibs.

He has challenged them to ensure this set-back is not fatal to the Premiership campaign.

He said: “There is no doubt they murdered us in the second half, absolutely murdered us.

“Hibs were the better team hands down, miles better than us in the second half.

“They had better players who had a big influence in the game and we didn’t react the way I expected especially when the second goal went in.

“There was plenty of effort from my players but there wasn’t enough responsibility in that whole second half.

“We picked up enough yellow cards but I am not kidded by that.

“There wasn’t enough proper tackling for my liking.

“I don’t know where it’s come from as we went into the game in good form.

“Yet we never won a tackle, we were very poor.

“Although we lost 2-0 we were lucky to get away with two.”

In-form Hibs, who beat Rangers 2-1 at Ibrox in their previous game, have edged to within five points of Aberdeen.

When asked if the Dons now had a battle for second spot, McInnes said: “Without doubt.

“At the start of the season, Rangers were huge favourites to finish in second spot. “Hibs will certainly push Rangers and us for that.”

Hibs went ahead early in the second half through Martin Boyle before Florian Kamberi doubled the lead.

McInnes said: “It is very unusual for us to be second best like we were in the second half.

“You can be second best for periods in a game but from the first minute of the second half until the referee blew the whistle we were second best.

“It is tough to take that but that is the reality.

“We will dust ourselves down and hopefully go again. I want to see an improvement on that.”

McInnes could see the signs of Hibs grabbing a stranglehold in the game towards the end of the first half and made moves at half-time to address that.

He said: “It was an even first half-hour but territorially they had it better in the closing stages of the first half.

“Maybe not in terms of working our goalkeeper or having any clear cut chances but certainly in pinning us back.

“We stopped passing the ball as well as we did in the first half hour and we never really applied enough pressure on the ball.

“I was pleased to get to half-time to try to address that.

“I said at half-time we had to take more responsibility to get on the ball press, to take more responsibility, to squeeze the game and deny them the space to work.

“We made a change and spoke about trying to ask more questions of their back three and trying to get more pressure on the ball.

“We never did that at all.”