Hibs’ 2-1 win in Thursday’s Edinburgh derby was their third three-pointer in succession, following victories against Kilmarnock and Ross County, whereas United have now lost three on the bounce – to Aberdeen, St Johnstone and St Mirren. No-one at Easter Road is getting carried away by what remains a modest upturn in fortunes, but there is no disguising the more positive spirit about the club.
“We’re definitely flying confidence-wise,” right-back Jordon Forster said. “We’ve had a clean sheet against Ross County and Kilmarnock and now we’ve won a derby. Now we can look forward to Sunday and hopefully another positive result.”
The victory over Hearts took Hibs into the top six for the first time under Terry Butcher. Forster is aware there is no guarantee they will stay there, but their improved scoring record combined with their increasingly effective defence has enabled him to regard the rest of the season with some realistic optimism.
“You look at the league, and apart from Celtic, who are away at the top, most other clubs can climb a couple of positions with a few positive results and that’s what we have done. We’re into the top six and three points against United will put us two points behind them.
“United haven’t been in the best of form, but that’s this league for you: everyone can beat each other. We’re in a good vein of form right now and we want to continue that and climb up the table even more. Winning games breeds confidence. We know we’re going into games going to score goals and feel that we won’t concede at the other end – it’s a great recipe for success.”
Success on Thursday only came after a Hearts equaliser had heaped the pressure on Hibs, and Forster feels the way in which his team-mates responded was proof of how much stronger they have become under Butcher. “People might say that in the past we might have crumbled, but we had loads of chances first half, scored the goal in the second and then let things go for about five minutes.
“It’s disappointing to lose a goal in any game, let alone a derby, but the mentality we have now is that if a team score one we’ll go and score two. We’re confident going into Sunday’s game that we can go to Tannadice and get three points.”