Adam Jackson has warned his manager not to worry about the mental fortitude of his players after Paul Heckingbottom suggested that his team had been spooked by the negativity in the Easter Road stands on Saturday.
Twice Hibernian took the lead and twice they were pegged back, having to settle for a share of the points in front of an audibly annoyed home support.
It led the under-scrutiny boss to suggest that the supporters’ anxiety had been transmitted to the players but the man who opened the scoring in a close opening spell said that the manager could trust the men he selected to shut that out.
“We’ve all played a lot of games now, we’re all grown men, thick-skinned,” said the defender. “We have to do it ourselves and play our game, play how we want to play in attack and in defence. It’s down to us.”
Team selection, tactics and, in particular, substitutions all provoked a fanbase who are unconvinced that the manager knows his best line-up and have yet to be won over by some of the new signings.
Scott Allan is the major exception, with fans well aware of the positive contributions he has made in past incarnations in the green and white and they were perturbed to see him utilised wide right, where his strengths appeared to be diluted and were unhappy when he was substituted in the 60th minute.
The cacophony of boos had surprised Heckingbottom, who said he didn’t know there was a law against taking him off but, while stressing that he backed his manager’s right to pick and choose personnel, Jackson said it was also the punters’ right to make their feelings known.
“He is bringing on quality players, it’s not as if he’s bringing on a nobody. But they pay their money don’t they? And it’s their decision. We have just got to keep working hard on the pitch to try to get them on side again. It’s a big club with a lot of fans and they expect, which is fair enough.”
St Johnstone are a great example of that steeliness. Having been written off before and proved their doubters wrong, they responded to early-season doom and gloom by turning in a far more convincing performance in the capital and proving that, even when they are down, they are rarely counted out.
While manager Tommy Wright will still be seeking reinforcements at the tip of his attack, the performance of Matty Kennedy and, in particular, Michael O’Halloran, who is almost back to his best, offers a constant threat going forward.
Add to that the spirit throughout the team and it was no surprise that they salvaged the draw, although they could justifiably argue that they perhaps merited more.
Jackson’s 24th-minute header was eventually cancelled out in the 68th minute when O’Halloran buried an angled drive beyond Ofir Marciano.
The goal and a second round of boos seemed to spur Hibs into life and they responded swiftly, when, only a minute later, Flo Kamberi got on the end of a cross to flick the ball past Zander Clark with the outside of his right foot.
But, as the match edged into stoppage time, St Johnstone pinned their opponents in and, with the tension levels cranked up, Jason Kerr headed home a Danny Swanson delivery in the dying seconds. It was the 11th goal conceded by Hibs in three games and it signalled more boos and left the Hibs manager, as well as his team, on the back foot.