Christian Doidge rues ‘two big losses’ as Hibs’ defensive frailties costly

Hibernian would still have a chance of clinching third place in the Premiership, and the Europa League place that goes with it, if their defence had improved as much as Christian Doidge’s goalscoring ability since last October’s trip to Pittodrie.​

Curtis Main slots home Aberdeen’s third goal against Hibernian at Pittodrie on Saturday. Picture: SNS

Back then the Welsh striker began and ended that drawn game with only two strikes to his credit after squandering a plethora of chances in a performance that gave the impression he couldn’t buy a goal.​

Saturday’s accomplished finish, timing a run to perfection before taking Scott Allan’s precision pass round Joe Lewis and finishing from an acute angle, now leaves you wondering what bigger club might buy him.​

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Doidge’s 18th of the season came in 39 minutes and from then until Steven Whittaker’s dismissal for a second yellow card ten minutes after the interval, Hibernian looked like cutting Aberdeen’s lead over them to only two points and Motherwell’s to six.​

Instead, what manager Jack Ross described afterwards as “a need to deal better with adversity” led to them falling eight and nine adrift of that pair respectively after Adam Jackson turned the ball into his own net, while Andrew Considine and Curtis Main added Dons goals of their own.​

Jackson’s own goal in 64 minutes was bad enough but the poor set-piece defending that allowed Considine to claim an equally preventable second two minutes later was more worrying, with Main’s late effort really rubbing it in.​

After all, Main was sent off in exactly the same minuteback in October as Whittaker was on Saturday, yet Aberdeen went on to show enough resilience to draw that match despite Ferguson also receiving a red card late on, leaving them with only nine men.​

Doidge revealed Whittaker did apologise to his team-mates for that rash red card but that doesn’t take the edge off a bad spell for the Easter Road club after suffering a similar second half meltdown at home to Hearts last Tuesday.​

“He’s disappointed but he thought he won the ball. It’s just one of those things,” said Doidge.”Did he apologise? He’s an experienced pro and he knows the script, so yes.​

“We are extremely frustrated though, as we were good until the sending-off. That killed us, I think. Then we conceded some sloppy goals but the game was there to be won and we are going home without the points.​ It’s tough to take getting two big losses like that in a row but it’s how we react now in the next game. Hopefully we will get the points.”​

They could certainly do with them as another defeat at home to St Johnstone on Saturday would send them below the Perth club into the bottom half of the table with only a trip to Hamilton and a visit from Celtic remaining before the split.​

Doidge added:”It’s going to be a big match against St Johnstone because they got a good result against Livingston and it will be a hard game. Of course, top six is definitely the aim but we still want to get as high as we can get.”​

For Aberdeen that’s looking like another third-place finish and European football again after finally winning at home for the first time in the league since beating Livingston on Boxing Day, and only a second anywhere in the Premiership in the last ten matches.​

Despite that poor return they can move back into third place with victory at Fir Park on Friday and Motherwell will be acutely aware that the Dons have been in much better form on the road.​

Their last away defeat was at Celtic Park in mid-December, and they won 3-0 at Motherwell earlier this season, which is why Main is confident of a happy return when he plays there for the first time since leaving the Steelmen last summer.​

“I can’t say why we’ve picked up good results away but not at home,” said the striker who was suspended for that previous trip to Fir Park. “We’ve certainly got the motivation and determination to get us to what we want.”