AFTER the elation of eviscerating Rangers in their final game of the old year, Hibernian have had to endure a more mundane beginning to 2015. Draws with Hearts and Falkirk meant they have now lost only once in their last 14 Championship matches, but more significantly, those dropped points have seen them lose ground again on the Ibrox club.
After that match at the end of December, Hibs were only four points behind Rangers. Before last night’s match between Rangers and Hearts, the gap was eight points, with Alan Stubbs’ club far closer to fifth-placed Falkirk.
Like Rangers, Hibs have lost five league games so far, but they have drawn four more. Scott Robertson, for one, is well aware of how costly those stalemates have been.
“The weekend past, Dumbarton at home, Raith Rovers at home – these are the ones that spring to mind,” the midfielder said, the first-mentioned match having been a 3-3 draw with Falkirk in which his team were 3-1 up at the break. “That’s six points that we should have managed to see out, and we would have been in a little better position than we are now.
“But we haven’t managed that. Every game that’s coming up now till the end of the season is a chance to cement our position in the top two in the league. Every weekend’s a chance to get three points.
“It’s a major disappointment to get so close to Rangers and let them get away again. We’ve still got to play them twice, and I’d like to think with the fixtures coming up we can put together another good run and get even closer.
“There was a big sense of deflation in the changing room after the [Falkirk] game. To be in such a winning position, at home, against a team that’s close to us in the league – there was a real sense of deflation. But we’ve got to take it on the chin and try and get the three points this weekend.”
Hibs should pick up those points at home to Cowdenbeath today, but their next game is a tough trip to Dumfries to face a Queen of the South side who are at present only one point behind them. A look at the league table might suggest that Hibs’ immediate concern should be holding on to third place, but Robertson believes that an aspirational glance upwards is a more positive approach to take.
“I said in the past when we were in fourth position that we were focusing on third,” he added. “We’ve managed to sneak ourselves into there, and now our next target is to be up to second.
“It’s slipped away a little bit in the last couple of weeks, but that is our main focus at the moment: to try to get into second. And then we’ll see what happens from there.” Hibs’ improvement in recent months has owed much to the rise to prominence of Scott Allan, whose recent displays have seen him hailed as the best player in the division. It was probably no coincidence that when Allan had a quieter game against Falkirk, Hibs failed to close out the match, but Robertson insisted they should not be seen as a one-man outfit.
“Not at all. I think goals are coming from all over the pitch,” he said. “Martin Boyle made a good contribution at the weekend, assisting for Jason Cummings’ goal, and making good runs behind. Lewis Stevenson has chipped in with a lot of assists this season as well. Scott’s obviously made a massive contribution to our upturn in fortunes with his form, but I also think that we don’t just rely on him. It’s not a one-man team.”
Cummings went a long way to proving as much against Falkirk, and although he was only officially accredited with two goals rather than the hat-trick he claimed, the teenage striker is still the top scorer in the division. “It’s not a hat-trick, but he’s done unbelievably well with his other goals and hopefully it continues,” Robertson said.
“With him getting more game time he’s getting more chances and more goals with it. I think when you’re a striker and you get that little head of steam up, the goals keep coming. So hopefully they do in the next couple of games.
“The boys are putting good balls into the box and he’s in the right place at the right time. A lot of his goals have come from crosses. It’s a good instinct to be in the right place. He’s shown good strength to get his goals as well – for example the one against Hearts where he had the strength to see off the challenge from a defender, then keep his composure and finish it well.”