HIBERNIAN manager Pat Fenlon hopes that a “scrappy” first strike for the club can spark a run of goals by summer signing James Collins.
The Easter Road outfit paid a reported £200,000 for the Swindon Town striker, but the 22-year-old had been slow to get off the mark with his new club.
However, after five matches without any luck in front of goal, the former Republic of Ireland under-21 internationalist finally broke his duck with the winner in Saturday’s 2-1 victory away to St Johnstone.
The one-time Aston Villa trainee earned his side all three points with a second-half shot that bounced slowly across the line after Saints goalkeeper Alan Mannus had got a strong hand to the ball.
And, having put his name on the scoresheet at last, Fenlon is optimistic Collins – who netted 18 times in 29 starts for Swindon – can now hit a purple patch in front of goal.
He said: “I was delighted for James, although that one looked like it wasn’t going to go over the line, to be honest.
“He didn’t have the best of games for us, but his work-rate was fantastic and I said that to him coming off, that if you give that sort of commitment things will turn around for you.
“Like all strikers, it’s about confidence and now that he’s got that goal hopefully he’ll get massive confidence out of it.
“Sometimes that happens with strikers, you get a scrappy one and then all of a sudden you go on a run.”
Collins’ strike partner, Paul Heffernan, also notched his first goal for the club, with his 35th-minute strike cancelling out Stevie May’s opener.
And Fenlon has hailed the composure of the recent recruit from Kilmarnock, who hinted at the possibility of a burgeoning partnership with Collins at the weekend. Fenlon added: “He’s a good finisher, he’s very calm in front of goal.
“I think you see that with his other goals, but also in training, he doesn’t slash at things, he’s nice and calm and finishes very well into the corners.
“He gives us a different platform, to be able to get it into him and get us up the pitch, and get the midfield up to support play.”
Fenlon handed another new signing, Abdellah Zoubir, his debut at McDiarmid Park and the Frenchman showed glimpses of the skills that Fenlon believes can light up the support.
The winger scored twice in a closed-door game against Rangers earlier this month and is expected to play a more prominent role as he settles in to his loan spell from Istres.
Fenlon told Hibernian TV: “We contemplated starting him but I think, when you are coming away from home, throwing him into that sort of area is difficult.
“But when the game opened up you could see the ability that Zouby has – he gets by people, he’s direct, but he gets his head up as well when he gets into good areas. He nearly picked one or two passes out for another goal for us.
“He will be a talent and the supporters will enjoy him, I think.”