LAST weekend, while both Hibs and Rangers were being held to draws, Hearts were finding a way to win and extend their lead at the top of the Championship.
It is a source of frustration for Easter Road midfielder Sam Stanton, who points to the fact that only a spectacular goal could separate the sides in the recent capital derby and claims that the gap at the top would be more streamlined if only he and his colleagues could find a way to cash in on more of the chances they create.
“It’s impressive [for Hearts] to still be unbeaten in the league, but they have not been perfect either,” he said. “It comes down to certain games. They got a wonder-goal against us and in other games we could have had that and that might have made a big difference to our season.
“We have dropped points with the odd goal here and there, it’s very frustrating. A goal or two in those games and you could have been looking at a completely different table. But that hasn’t been the case and we have to look forward.”
Stanton has only started six games this season, the last coming back in September, but after a spell of having to settle for substitute appearances, he is hoping injuries have given him an opening and he can play his part in helping Hibs to benefit from this weekend’s fixtures.
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Something has to give as first and second in the league play each other. But for that to have the maximum positive effect, he knows fourth-placed Hibs need to do their part and secure three points against Dumbarton.
“We still believe we can close the points gap. Hearts and Rangers play this weekend, so we could make up ground on one or both of them,” said Stanton. “But it will be about what we do, we can’t think about the other games. We have to focus on ourselves, try to win the game and see what happens.
“Sometimes the opposition make it difficult to score a lot of goals and that’s the way they have set up against us when we’re at home. So it’s up to us to find a way to break teams down.
“We have been creating opportunities but not taking them. We have to create more and make them count. We are a young team, we don’t have as much experience as other teams do, but that’s no reason why we’re not scoring enough goals.
“Sometimes the luck doesn’t go your way or you miss chances and it has been frustrating because we have put in good performances this season and we know we can do it, so when it’s not working sometimes you do think ‘why isn’t this working?’ – but that’s football.”
The pressure placed on them by an expectant home crowd has been considered a disadvantage in recent times, especially when combined with the stuffy defending by opposition teams who are less inventive than they would be at so-called lesser grounds, according to the Hibs players. Stanton believes a run of three games away from home, in league and cup duty, could be helpful.
“Teams come here and try to sit in, put bodies back there, so it’s difficult to break teams down,” he said. “Teams in this league have good quality, so it’s always difficult to win games. But we have quality players, guys who can do great things. It’s very frustrating when we don’t win games but we’ll keep doing what we can do.
“Playing away from home might be a good thing in the next few games because teams might come out more. That will give us a chance to counter-attack and maybe do the things we’ve not been able to at Easter Road.”
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