THE start to Hibs’ season has been far from ideal but midfielder Scott Robertson is still furstrated by the way Hearts have been able to take advantage of the situation and build up such a sizeable lead over their city rivals.
With the first quarter of the season gone, the gap between the capital clubs is already 14 points, with Hearts topping the Championship. It leaves Alan Stubbs’ men with a lot of ground to make up but Robertson says it is possible, and believes they can start the fightback against Livingston this afternoon and continue it with victory in the second derby of the campaign, next Sunday.
“The last couple of results have seen us lose ground, but all we can do for the moment is pick up three points against Livingston and then, the following weekend, do the same thing against Hearts.
“Last season was a bitterly disappointing season for the whole of Edinburgh. There was an expectation that Hearts were going down but, from our point of view, it was a massive shock to get relegated. The way this season has gone has been a bit of a shock too. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we need to pick up – and pick up quick.
“I’m surprised that gap has opened up after one round of games. They have only dropped two points and deserve all the credit in the world for that. Fair play to them. They have beaten every team except Dumbarton, which is brilliant from them. we would have loved to have done the same but have found it a little more difficult to break teams down. That has been our biggest shortfall I think.”
The season started positively for Hibs, with a win over Livingston on the opening day of their Championship campaign, but faltered when a close derby contest went the way of Robbie Neilson’s team in the next league fixture.
“We lost more ground in the last derby but I don’t think there was anything between the two sides and it’s the games elsewhere that have cost us – Falkirk, Dumbarton, Raith Rovers. We’ve lost a lot of points in those games whereas, in similar situations, Hearts have scraped wins.”
The fact that Hearts are cashing in on the chances they create while Hibs squander more than they should has not been lost on Robertson or his team-mates, especially those who have been teased by goalkeeper Mark Oxley.
The goalkeeper scored the freak goal that granted Hibs all three points the last time they faced up to Livingston, his long clearance stunning his counterpart and bouncing into the net, and he hasn’t let the outfield players who are struggling to surpass his tally forget it.
“It was quite unique – certainly not something that happens every season. Ox hasn’t stopped talking about it and keeps reminding everyone that he is equal on goals with myself and has more than Liam [Craig]. I’ll be using that as a wee motivator to get more goals – I think the whole squad is!”
The fact is the Easter Road side have only amassed 11 goals between them, the exact same number as they have conceded, and just over a third of the sum scored by the team at the top of the table.
But while it has thus far been two tales in one city, Robertson believes that Hearts will eventually stumble and says he and his colleagues need to be ready to capitalise on that.
“You can’t tell me Hearts will pick up the same amount of points in the next round of fixtures. That would be incredible, really. I do see them dropping points, it is just a matter of where and when that comes.
“We are certainly looking to pick up a lot more than 11 points from our next round of games. What we need to do is win the games we have faltered in – I don’t think there has been a game we have been outplayed or been dominated in, yet we have dropped points.
“So we need to stand up and be counted. You don’t need to play brilliant football to win games, and I think Hearts are probably testament to that. Although they have played well and won 4-0 or 5-0 in some games, there have been others where they haven’t played so well yet still get three points.
“I gather against Alloa they didn’t play well but still managed to win the game. I don’t think we have done that once this season. But it has been no surprise to deal with teams coming here and making it difficult.
“When I was an opposition player I used to enjoy coming here, and we are probably seen as a scalp this season. I would probably say that Livingston are one of the teams who were not quite so defensive – and we managed to get the win. Hopefully they will come out even more at home and that could be to our benefit.”