Among a seemingly infinite list of criticisms that a football manager can level at his team, a failure to be ruthless in attack could be considered as one of the less serious.
After Christian Nade scored an injury-time equaliser to rescue an unlikely point for Raith Rovers on Saturday, Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs was left to lament his side’s profligate finishing.
Either side of Martin Boyle’s 46th minute goal, the hosts wasted a plethora of genuine chances and were ultimately left to pay the price when former Hearts striker Nade, who also secured a draw for Rovers back in October, headed home.
Reflecting on the match as a whole, it would be harsh to be overly critical of Hibs – who could easily have won this game by several goals.
Stubbs’ side dominated possession, created various openings in the visitors’ box and, up until Nade’s contribution, Hibs goalkeeper Mark Oxley was essentially a spectator. Yes, the home side missed out on the chance to leapfrog Rangers into second place in the Championship but there was plenty during Saturday’s match for Stubbs to be satisfied with.
“If we had won the game with the same scoreline (5-0) that we beat Cowdenbeath, I don’t think anyone could have said that we didn’t deserve it,” said Stubbs. “On another day we win the game comfortably. I was delighted with the performance, we have completely dominated possession; God knows what the stats say for the chances we created. But the most important stat is that we drew the game.
“I’m not going to criticise the players because we’ve drawn a game when we should have won it four or five.”
Stubbs claimed he had not even considered the prospect of climbing above Rangers but Boyle admits the players are kicking themselves for failing to move up to second place. The on-loan Dundee marksman netted a minute after the restart but he was among those that failed to make the most of their openings either side of the break.
Hibs remain third, one point behind Rangers, who have three games in hand, but Boyle admits they should be looking down at the Ibrox club.
He said: “Definitely, we see it as a missed opportunity – it’s a massive two points dropped for us.
“We are chasing Rangers but we just need to pick ourselves up and get going again. We play Rangers next in the league so hopefully we can get a win there and overtake them. It came down to chances, if we don’t kill teams off it will come back and bite us in the arse and that’s what’s happened.
“We were devastated, it felt like a loss to lose a goal so late after dominating. It’s pretty devastating to be fair.”
Boyle scored his first goal for Hibs just after the break after slipping a shot beyond the brilliant David McGurn inside the box from Dylan McGeouch’s defence-splitting pass.
The 21-year-old, who also had a goal ruled out for offside, concedes he should have amassed more. He added: “With the amount of chances I had, I’ll put my hand up. I should be bagging a few, it was just one of those games that you dominate the game so much but they get one chance at the end and they nick it. That’s the way it goes unfortunately and we paid the price for it.
“The way the game was going, when we got one I thought more would come.
“We had more chances, myself and other guys. It only takes once chance and unfortunately they scored in the 90th minute.”
Former Hearts striker Nade, who also responded to taunts from the Hibs fans back in October when he scored to rescue a point for Rovers, headed in at the end from Ryan Conroy’s corner.
Dale Carrick, who came on to make his debut after joining on a month-long loan from Hearts, won the set-piece. The striker played his first game since October after recovering from a hamstring tear and he hopes to use his time at Rovers to push himself back into Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson’s plans.
Carrick said: “The competition for places at Hearts is quite high, there are about six of us now. Going out on loan, it gives me that extra incentive to get my fitness up so when I do go back that I can fight for a place.
“When I was told there was a chance to go out on loan I jumped at it because there are a lot of good games coming up with Raith. We’ve got two against Rangers, a Falkirk game and a match against Livingston so they are all good games to be involved in.”