Hibs players aware of critical need for results as massive run looms
Hibs sloped off the Easter Road pitch on Saturday with boos ringing in their ears.
The 1-1 cinch Premiership draw with Motherwell was, on the basis of that one result, far from a disaster, but in the context of one league win in seven matches and only four points taken from a possible 21 in that period, then you can understand the growing frustration within the Hibs support.
Sandwiched in this miserable run is Hibs’ finest result of the season, the 3-1 defeat of Rangers at Hampden that secured their place in the Premier Sports Cup final on December 19 against Celtic. The pressure would be cranked up a few extra notches on manager Jack Ross and his players had the victory over Rangers not taken place.
Their form bears the hallmarks of a team fighting relegation and while Hibs have slipped to seventh in the table, they do not look like a poor team. There are times when their build-up play is excellent and they create plenty of chances, but the stat of five leagues goals in eight recent matches shows that converting them is becoming a problem. Defensively, they have not kept a clean sheet in nine matches, despite strong individual performances from the likes of Ryan Porteous, Josh Doig, Paul McGinn and Paul Hanlon.
Against Motherwell, Hibs took the lead on 33 minutes via a splendid volleyed finish by Kevin Nisbet and manufactured further opportunities thereafter to go on a get a second goal, but Nisbet missed a presentable one right at the end, while Josh Campbell struck the inside of the bar and had a shot cleared off the line.
Motherwell did not merit a loss, however. They spurned just as many chances before Tony Watt’s skidding 60th-minute shot smacked the post on the way past Matt Macey. They remain six points ahead of Hibs in fifth place and are motoring along nicely under Graham Alexander.
The problems lie at Hibs’ door. Ross admits his team are on a difficult run of form and the players are aware of the situation too. They have three league matches coming up against fellow bottom-six teams – Livingston on Wednesday, St Mirren on Saturday and Dundee the following Tuesday – before a return to Hampden to face Celtic.
"We've got big games coming up,” said wing-back Chris Cadden. “The cup final is in the back of our minds, you wouldn't be human if you weren't thinking about it.
"But there's massive games coming up in the league and a run for us so the cup final is there, it'll come around when it comes around, but between now and then we have to try and get results in some big games.
"I think performances have been good, it's just the wee things that aren't falling our way. If we'd scored one of those chances at the end everyone's happy as Larry.
“It's one of those where we just have to keep the confidence and keep the belief, which the gaffer is, and keep the performances up and things will turn for us.
“We need to get our home form sorted. We need to try and make Easter Road a fortress, 100 per cent, but I can't put my finger on anything in particular, we just need to do better.”