Neil Lennon: Hibs may find it impossible to match Hearts win

Neil Lennon is all too aware there will be an after-the-Lord-Mayor's-show feel to Championship proceedings at Easter Road this evening.

The atmosphere at Easter Road during Hibs' cup win over Hearts gave Martin Boyle goosebumps. Picture: SNS.
The atmosphere at Easter Road during Hibs' cup win over Hearts gave Martin Boyle goosebumps. Picture: SNS.

The Hibernian head coach does not expect his side to match their midweek pyrotechnics as he prepares his next critique of what has been a topsy-turvy few days.

On Wednesday, he was rightly moved to gush over his players’ brilliance as they dismantled derby rivals Hearts with a 3-1 Scottish Cup success in Leith. Days earlier, Lennon had lashed his men for lacking on all fronts as they drew away to Raith Rovers – a rant that secured the desired 

As he considered the need to “temper” the “great feelgood factor” around the club ahead of Dunfermline’s visit for the 5:15pm televised encounter, Lennon seemed to steel himself for what might be termed the unattractive, following the good and bad of the past two outings.

“Now it is back to trying to win the league [and] for me, it is almost impossible to replicate Wednesday night,” the Northern Irishman said of his side, currently holding a seven-point advantage at the top of the Championship. “One, you’re not playing Hearts. Two, it’s not a full house under the lights, it’s not a cup tie. So am I expecting them to play the same way? It’s going to be very, very difficult to do.

“There is going to be a drop and I know from my own experience as a player from a Champions League game on a Wednesday to a 
Scottish game on a Saturday, mentally and physically there is a drop.

“Our recovery is important now, yesterday and today for getting ready again for Dunfermline. But what I would like is for the players to get as close to what they showed against Hearts. But I can’t guarantee you they’ll be exactly the same as they were on Wednesday night.

“Well you would hope our fans can create as much atmosphere as possible for the players and the players can feed off that. But it’s a different game, you know? A different quality of game.

“I think Dunfermline will come and have a go at times and will be really committed. We are the big team in the league, it’s the best stadium in the league and players want to come and prove a point.

“And we have to face that week in, week out. So they have to get themselves up again as quickly as possible. Now I don’t think we can play as well. If it was a week down the line I would say yeah. What we are trying to do is give them enough rest and recovery and get all the excitement out of the way.

“There was a lot of nice press after the game, a lot of nice things said about them. But that’s gone.”

Not forgotten, though. The ability of the Hibs support to serve up a genuinely special sing-song courtesy of the emotional punch of their Sunshine on Leith club anthem makes certain of that.

It appeared like everybody and their auntie posted clips of the post-match serenade. Or in the case of Martin Boyle, everybody and their fiancée, with his betrothed Rachael Small – who plays for Hibs Ladies – one of those who captured the moment on her mobile.

“She was there and she was proud of me,” said Boyle, whose wing play Hearts could not handle in the replay.

“She was delighted and all the Hibs Ladies were there.

“Just everyone left with smiles on their faces. You could hear Sunshine on Leith from a couple of miles away, I’ve seen videos of that. It was absolutely brilliant. It’s unbelievable experiencing that atmosphere. Being on the pitch gives you goosebumps.

“That’s what happens when you watch it on the TV and you have your Celtic Park and Anfield. Coming out before the game, it was really breathtaking.”