Hibs boss Pat Fenlon has hailed his Easter Road defence after they emerged from clashes with Celtic and Hearts without conceding a goal.
While admitting his side had found themselves “under the cosh” at times during the latest Edinburgh derby, Fenlon revealed he was happy to have held on for a point and a result which means the Easter Road side are unbeaten in three encounters with their Capital rivals this season.
The draw at Tynecastle also means Hibs head into the winter break in fourth place in the SPL table, six points ahead of Hearts, with their points tally of 32 after 22 matches just one short of the total they gathered in the whole of last season.
Fenlon said: “They probably mixed it up a bit better than us, a big striker to hit and good runners running off him, which caused us a little bit of a problem, but I felt defensively we were solid. We’ve gone into two games, Celtic at home and Hearts away, and not conceded a goal, which is testament to the desire not lose a goal.”
Although John McGlynn’s side had more chances, substitute Jason Holt seeing a netbound effort cleared by Ryan McGivern and John Sutton thumping a header off the crossbar, Fenlon felt Hibs had the best opportunity of the game when Eoin Doyle was set free by Paul Cairney with only goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald to beat.
The Irishman, however, fired wildly over the bar, his disappointment attributed by Fenlon to the exertion he’d put into the two matches either side of New Year’s Day.
He said: “Eoin felt he had let the boys down but you have to remember he put in a hell of a shift for us against Celtic and again against Hearts and when you get into the areas he did a little bit of sharpness might not be there. You have to take the positives from his performances and he had worked tremendously hard for the team.”
While his players will be enjoying a few days off as they begin the winter break, Fenlon revealed he’ll remain hard at work pursuing possible January transfer deals, with his hope being Hibs can keep the loan trio of Leigh Griffiths, McGivern and Jorge Claros at Easter Road until the end of the season.
Chairman Rod Petrie has been negotiating with the players’ parent clubs for some time now and the outcome will,
Fenlon admitted, influence his activity over the coming weeks.
He said: “Whether we bring someone in depends on whether the loan players can get sorted out. If they stay, great. One or two players may move out. If that happens, we might be able to bring one in. If not and the loan players stay we will be as we were. I am delighted with the squad, we’ve seen tremendous character from them over the first part of the season.”