HIBERNIAN manager Pat Fenlon hopes his side can discover their fight in the battle to avoid relegation from the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Fenlon believes a mental fragility has contributed to his side’s failings this season, which leaves them above the Clydesdale Bank Premier League’s bottom club, Dunfermline, by virtue of a superior goal difference.
After two successive clean sheets, Hibs lost 5-0 to Celtic on Sunday and on Wednesday were beaten 4-3 at Motherwell.
Hibs travel to Kilmarnock tomorrow hoping for a repeat of the 1-0 William Hill Scottish Cup win earlier this month. Fenlon said: “Individual errors are causing the problem at the moment. A lot of it is in the head. People have to be braver. People make mistakes and you can live with mistakes but you can’t keep compounding mistakes by making others. It’s important we’re mentally stronger. It’s about being up for the scrap, up for the fight. Whoever is up for it more will come out on top.”
Fenlon is fully aware of the predicament Hibs are in. “There are consequences to not winning football matches,” he added, with relegation likely to result in cost-cutting measures at Easter Road. “Everyone suffers at the end if we don’t get it right.”
Fenlon hopes to instil greater belief among his players and will continue to urge them to respond positively to setbacks. “We’ve got to be a bit more positive and a bit more aggressive all round,” he added.
“We’ve got to get the players confident and trusting in what they’re doing, no matter what happens in the game. At the moment we’re reacting negatively, not just getting back to the game plan that has served us previously.”
Kenny Shiels, the Kilmarnock manager, has engaged in mind games prior to matches of late – notably with Hearts boss Paulo Sergio.
“Maybe that’s the Irishness in him, I don’t know,” Fenlon said. “My only concern is my football club. I’ve enough problems here without worrying about anything anywhere else. He’s done a great job on the pitch. They’re a decent side. We had a good, tough game in the cup and we expect nothing different going there. I’ve got to concentrate on what we’re doing. We’ve a massive couple of months ahead and let’s just focus on that.”
Striker Leigh Griffiths went off with a foot problem at Fir Park but should be fit for tomorrow, while Fenlon has no fresh worries, with Callum Booth (Achilles), Danny Galbraith (groin) and Ian Murray (hip) still out.
Meanwhile Michael Higdon, who scored a match-winning hat-trick against Hibs, is intent on sending the Motherwell fans home happy to improve his relationship with the Fir Park faithful.
The striker hit two clinical penalties and a stunning overhead kick as his side edged the seven-goal thriller. The Liverpudlian found himself targeted by the critics among the Motherwell support earlier in the season but he has been appreciated more and more in recent weeks and a crowd of more than 8,000 chanted his name throughout last night’s second half.
Higdon told MFCTV: “If you play well you get the plaudits and if you don’t you get a bit of stick. I’ve been in the game long enough to realise that. As long as they are happy that makes me and all the boys in the changing room very happy.”
Although Higdon’s hat-trick came courtesy of two spot-kicks, his acrobatic effort was worthy of taking the match ball home on its own. Higdon put Motherwell 3-2 ahead when he sent his left-footed effort into the corner of the net with his back to goal with Hibs goalkeeper Graham Stack motionless. “I know I’ve got that in my locker at times,” the former St Mirren and Falkirk striker said. “The way it fell it was Roy of the Rovers stuff, but I was just happy it went in.”