The 25-year-old striker has scored seven goals in his past six matches. Two weekends ago, against Motherwell, Nisbet benefitted from some excellent build-up play and a decent team performance to bag a hat-trick, but in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Dundee United, it was the Scotland hitman that rescued his underperforming colleagues. Hibs were very poor in this cinch Premiership contest against the Tangerines and would have lost had the visitors been more resolute and had Nisbet not had his shooting boots on.
The Hibs equaliser, two minutes into stoppage time, was a beautiful finish. Nisbet took Joe Newell’s pass in, managed to fashion a centimetre of space and lash the ball past Mark Birighitti. Given the minutes on the clock, the stage of the match and the importance of Hibs not losing here, it was a big moment in the season. His first goal, midway through the first half, wasn’t bad either, a smart finish from 18 yards after being picked out by Josh Campbell.
“I just feel like I’m going to score in every game just now,” said Nisbet. “I’ve felt that for a while now. I did say before the Rangers game that I felt I had come back a different player – and I think I’ve shown that. But, of course, I’m disappointed not to get the three points. But it’s a good point.
“When I was out injured, I worked on my game a lot. My fitness was a big one, upper body stuff as well, and mainly just developing that sharpness. I think I’ve come back really sharp. If you look at my goals, you’ll see someone playing with a lot of confidence and looking really sharp.
“The chance for the second, I was just thinking about hitting the target. When there are so many bodies in the way, it’s hard to see the shot. So I knew if I hit the target it was going to be a goal. Just a shame it wasn’t a winner for three points. I do feel like I’m going to put away every chance I get at the moment. That’s what it’s like as a striker. When you’re scoring every week, every time you get a chance, you feel like you’re going to score.”
Already the clamour has begun for Nisbet to be included in the Scotland squad in March. Have his goals sent manager Steve Clarke a message? “Yeah, of course,” Nisbet admitted. “But I’m just focusing on club football right now, getting myself back to full fitness. I don’t think I’m really there yet, I can definitely improve my match sharpness. And that will happen with more games. Steve Clarke phoned me as soon as I got the injury, told me to keep my head down work hard and come back a better player.”
In the match itself, Dundee United were largely excellent. They took the lead through Glenn Middleton and regained it via a deflected Ian Harkes strike to lead 2-1 at the interval. Perhaps their Achilles heel was dropping too deep, too early, with 11 men behind the ball from 75 minutes onwards. Manager Liam Fox did not freshen up his team until seven minutes from the end. Their dejected faces at full time said it all after Nisbet’s late salvo, unable to pull away from Motherwell and Ross County at the bottom of the league. They remain in tenth place, with Hibs seven points better off in seventh.