Hibs' condition getting better and better ahead of huge Aberdeen trip

Agreeing with Mark Twain’s assertion that while facts are stubborn things, statistics are pliable, Hibs manager Shaun Maloney has refused to be held hostage by basic figures.

Hibs manager Shaun Maloney.
Hibs manager Shaun Maloney.

It was former Aberdeen manager Ebbe Skovdahl who said that statistics are like mini-skirts in the sense “they give you good ideas but hide the important things", and as Hibs prepare for their cinch Premiership trip to Pittodrie, things are certainly looking a lot more attractive.

Instead of two wins from 10 in their preceding matches, their victory over Motherwell on Saturday made it six games without defeat. They have conceded just one goal in five and while the goalscoring stats have made pretty miserable reading ahead of that game, Elias Melkersen brightened the mood with two goals from one start.

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“I don't think I ever get too up or down. Even before Motherwell there were parts of our performances I was still happy with, although I think it was quite clear there were areas we had to push to improve.

“I was pleased with the form before Motherwell, even though I knew we could improve a lot in certain areas.”

Booking a spot in the Scottish Cup semi-finals has given them belief to take into the final three games before the split and the knowledge that if they can keep churning out more positive numbers, a tumultuous season could yet prove to be a memorable one.

“So confidence is good but it’s certainly not the time to be happy with what we have, we need to keep trying to improve and keep pushing,” said the Easter Road gaffer.

Pleased with individual performances last week that were very high, he continued: “Like Sylvester Jasper in the first half, and Elias – even ones that might not catch the eye as much. Drey Wright's performance was very good, Josh Campbell for large parts of the game was very good defensively which then had a big impact on how well we could attack.

“Our defensive players again were very good for large parts so it's that balance that I've spoken about before. Against Motherwell we showed real intent in the attacking third and not only do we have to match that this weekend, we have to go even further, we have to keep improving on it.”

In fourth at the moment, the Leith side are still walking a tightrope. With just one point between six teams battling for the three remaining places in the top six, and Aberdeen, for now, still in with an outside chance, there is no margin for error.

“I've never seen the league this tight before, with so many of us chasing the top six and top four. Saturday is obviously a huge game for Aberdeen and it's a big game for us as well.

“Every weekend you can either move up one or two places, or drop one or two so every game feels like a big occasion at the moment.”

Joe Newell made a positive return from injury last weekend and with Paul Hanlon back in training, he could be next, while Jake Doyle-Hayes, Josh Doig, Ewan Henderson and Matt Macey will all be given the chance to prove their fitness.

“We’ll give them until the last moment before we travel to Aberdeen. A couple of them have a better chance than others.”