Grant Holt looked pretty tired after this game. He joked that he’d had to seek out the shade in the second half on a hot afternoon and he tweeted after his drive home that his 35-year-old limbs had seized up and that he “felt like the Tin Man”.
But the gnarled striker was delighted to score his first goal for Hibernian and see them achieve a handsome victory.
“It’s nice to give some team a bit of a pumping,” he said afterwards. “It’s been coming for weeks. We’ve been playing well and not been able to finish off, myself included, so it’s good to finally do that.”
The win made it four out of four for Hibs and lifted them clear at the top of the Championship. Four different players scored, three for the first time, and all four goals were headers, suggesting a different approach under Neil Lennon after the patient passing of the Alan Stubbs era.
“We moved the ball a bit quicker today,” added Holt. “I think at times we take too many touches.” Slower ball in Holt’s book makes the striker’s job harder. “It’s difficult in there when you’re trying to get away from defenders, especially when they know what’s going to come.”
He praised the quick delivery for his goal from John McGinn. “I was happy to get my head on it and put it in. I thought we were excellent in the first half. Morton came with a good game plan and tried to nullify us. But once we got the goals we relaxed and in the second half we probably should have made it six or seven.”
Holt’s goal was the second, the opener coming from Andrew Shinnie, pictured. The third was a fine team goal, scored by Jason Cummings, and the fourth – dynamic midfield play by McGinn, a long Cummings cross and Holt’s replacement Brian Graham diving full-length to head home – was the pick of the bunch.
The much-travelled Holt is enjoying his football in Edinburgh but has a clear aim. “My ambition is to win the league; that’s what I came up here to do. I think I’m doing a good job so far. I think I give Hibs something different.”
He picked out some of his new team-mates for special praise, including generally unsung ones like Martin Boyle, another substitute who could have scored a hat-trick, and Marvin Bartley, whose screening job in front of the back four allowed the attack-minded players freedom to “go and be fruitful”. Shinnie, not yet up to speed, will be a great addition to the squad. “His eye for a pass is fantastic,” said Holt.
Then there’s strike partner Cummings. Holt has known many and rates Hibs’ top scorer for the past two seasons highly. “Jason just scores goals, that’s what he does. When he over-complicates things he drives the gaffer nuts. But when he hits the ball 30 yards over the bar you can’t moan at him because next chance he gets you pretty much know he’ll score.”
Former Hibs goalkeeper Andy McNeil, who took the field to a warm reception when Derek Gaston couldn’t continue following the dunt he got from Holt in the striker’s determination to score, reckons his old team are stronger with their new aerial power.
“All four goals were crosses and headers and that shows the new manager has changed things,” he said. “I think that will pay dividends for them. Last year I felt Hibs could sometimes be predictable. Now they still play good football but have the threat of Holt and Graham. That will make a big difference to them.”