Calderwood tips Hibs striker to get even better after fourth goal in as many games
O’Connor powered home a header for Hibs’ third goal in what turned out to be a comfortable 5-0 win over Berwick Rangers who had arrived at Easter Road intent on capitalising on the Edinburgh club’s shaky start to the season.
But it was O’Connor’s overall performance which pleased his boss most, Calderwood declaring the strong-running hitman was revelling in being back in a green-and-white shirt as he seeks to rebuild his career following his unhappy experiences south of the Border. Pointing out that Kilmarnock’s 4-1 win had overshadowed O’Connor’s contender for goal of the season at Rugby Park, a finish he feels was beyond most strikers in the SPL, Calderwood said: “Garry is getting more and more powerful. The best thing for him is to be playing games rather being a substitute somewhere else.
“He’s delighted to be here and he’s a big influence on everyone in the dressing-room. It was another good goal last night but an even better performance for me.”
Asked if he felt O’Connor was beginning to hit peak form again, the Hibs manager said: “I think there’s a lot more to come from him and there’s certainly a lot more we can give him in terms of service.”
Overall, there was plenty to please Calderwood as his players, under pressure having lost three of their four opening SPL matches, negotiated a potentially tricky tie, Martin Scott scoring twice with Akpo Sodje and Ivan Sproule, with his first goal since his return to the club, also getting on the scoresheet.
However, Calderwood highlighted an “outstanding” 45 minutes from 19-year-old Scott Smith who made a second-half debut appearance, the Hibs manager delighted with a string of superb crosses from the left, one of which led to Scott’s second goal. The youngster was also denied a goal as Berwick keeper Jamie Barclay pushed his shot onto the bar.
Smith, though, is likely to find himself being shipped out on loan to gain the first-team experience he’s unlikely to find at present at Easter Road.
Calderwood said: “Scott was terrific in pre-season. We wanted to give him 45 minutes and he was good.
“He’s another young one coming through and we want to afford him as many opportunities as possible. There’s three or four, including Scott, I’d like to get out on loan but we know that if no-one is willing to take him then we have someone who can come in and have an impact in the first team, as difficult as the situation might be.”