Hapless Hibs’ slide continues as McGinn lifts Dons

Hibernian’s hopes of avoiding a relegation play-off place rest in their ability to regain confidence quickly, manager Terry Butcher admitted last night.

Niall McGinn celebrates his and Aberdeens second in their 2-0 win at Easter Road. Picture: SNS
Niall McGinn celebrates his and Aberdeens second in their 2-0 win at Easter Road. Picture: SNS

Butcher conceded Hibs were “in a scrap” after last night’s 2-0 home defeat to Aberdeen, with the hosts failing to summon up so much as a shot on target.

Hibs remain four points ahead of Partick Thistle, who currently occupy the relegation play-off place. The Easter Road side play St Mirren in their first post-split fixture next weekend.

“Listen we’re in a scrap but I’m up for it,” said Butcher. “Bring it on, as far as I’m concerned. For me, it tests your character and your mettle and that’s what we need to do. Make sure our character is stronger than the other teams.

“Are my team up for it? That remains to be seen. I hope they are. I’ve got confidence in the boys that we’ll get the points.”

As expected, Butcher took his time before facing the press, although he stressed that he could not ask for more from his players in terms of effort.

“The boys certainly worked hard and I can’t fault them for that,” he said. “But we are not a threat in front of goal and that’s for sure. We were playing a confident team whose movement from their front four is terrific. But we just haven’t got that.

“Thank god we are not playing Aberdeen any more,” he added, after three defeats to the Pittodrie side this season. “We have now got five games against teams we have already beaten this season, teams we can have a right good scrap with.

“A goal would be good,” Butcher added, with reference to Hibs having scored just once in their last five outings. “They get you points. We’ve only kept one clean sheet in 2014 so we need to do that and then score more than the opposition but you need to create chances for that to happen.”

Hibs fell to two stunning strikes from Niall McGinn as Aberdeen strengthened their bid to finish in second place. “We’ll finish where we deserve to finish. We’re not obsessed with finishing second,” said manager Derek McInnes. “We want to finish second, we want to get into Europe, and if we can continue the form and results we’ve shown up until now then we’ll give ourselves a chance of that.

“These boys are terrific, 63 points is way ahead of where I imagined us to be at the start of the season. They deserve a lot of credit to be fighting on three fronts and we’re determined to make the most of it.”

While McGinn picked up the man of the match honours after his brace – which might have been a hat-trick but for the width of a post – the Northern Irishman was looking at the bigger picture for Aberdeen in the wake of a disappointing draw at Tynecastle in their previous outing.

“The most important thing is the three points,” he said. “After the draw (against Hearts) last week we needed to bounce back but I was delighted to get on the scoresheet. I think we’re hitting form at the right time with a lot of games coming up. Now it’s the important part and we need to kick on and pull together.”

Midfielder Peter Pawlett added: “We knew it was the last game before the split and we wanted to get three points clear of Motherwell.”