Hibs urged to ditch anxiety factor and stand up and be counted, says Robbie Stockdale

Robbie Stockdale  thought Hibs were well on their way to a long-awaited victory when they went 2-0 up against Ross County on Saturday,  but after being pegged back to 2-2, it was the lowest he has ever felt in football. Picture: SNS.
Robbie Stockdale thought Hibs were well on their way to a long-awaited victory when they went 2-0 up against Ross County on Saturday, but after being pegged back to 2-2, it was the lowest he has ever felt in football. Picture: SNS.
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Robbie Stockdale has never felt any lower after a game than having witnessed Hibs throw away a two-goal lead against Ross County and with it the chance to end a run of nine matches without a win.

But, insisted the Easter Road assistant head coach, there is no time for anyone to feel sorry for himself with tomorrow’s match against Livingston – yet another chance to hopefully begin the onerous task of hauling themselves away from the foot of the Premiership table – quickly followed by Saturday’s Betfred Cup semi-final against Celtic.

The capital side have found themselves incapable of winning despite having got their noses in front on no fewer than six occasions this season, dropping 13 points in the process to leave them second bottom of the table.

Stockdale conceded that opposition sides have recognised that failing, one which is continually undoing all the earlier good work done by Paul Heckingbottom’s players in matches.

“There is certainly an issue,” he conceded. “We get ourselves into some fantastic positions in matches and Saturday was certainly our doing. We stopped doing the things that had got us into that position. We need to find a solution that gets us over the line.”

The latest setback brought calls from the stands for Heckingbottom, without a win since the opening day of the season, to be sacked, but while it is part and parcel of football that the manager bears the brunt of the terracing anger, Stockdale argued the players themselves also carry a responsibility. He said: “We all share the blame and we all feel it. We’ve looked back and shown the players where we thought we could be better in the game and they agree.

“It’s about doing the job for the 90-plus minutes, however long you play. Until we do that it’s going to be difficult.”

Stockdale admitted that, like almost everyone inside Easter Road, he thought having seen Daryl Horgan and Scott Allan score those two quickfire goals at the beginning of the second half the worst result would be a 2-0 victory.

However, it appeared the players’ collective psyche became one of holding on to what they had. “I think it became that,” agreed Stockdale. “But I would say I thought we carried on on the front foot for a certain amount of time. We hit the post, had set-piece opportunities. But then it just comes down to players not doing the jobs they are asked to do. The first goal is preventable, clearly. Then there’s an anxiety that creeps into 
everybody.

“Until we get through that threshold and get the win we are going to have to deal with it and deal with it better than we are. It’s obvious we are good enough to win because we are putting ourselves into the position of winning.

“Now the problem we have found is that once it happens more than once, teams will think they can stay in games. So it’s a little bit of game management, cleverness on our part that when the going turns and the momentum turns, what can we do in the match to turn it back.”

Stockdale insisted the frustration shown by supporters is shared by those charged with getting results, saying: “We feel their pain, honestly. It’s probably the lowest I’ve felt after a game on Saturday. I’ve been in football a long time and you have highs and lows.

“It just felt like a real sucker punch. But we’ve got a big week, haven’t we? A really big week.

“There’s no time for feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to man up, stick the chest out, go again. Our players have to stand up and be counted.”