IT IS not how Hibernian wanted it to pan out, but Sunday’s Edinburgh derby against rivals Hearts has become something of a litmus test of Alan Stubbs’ side.
Livingston 0-4 Hibernian
Scorers: Hibernian - Malonga (31), Handling (53), McGeouch (70pen), Heffernan (86)
A five game unbeaten run – that includes a League Cup win over Ross County and stunning triumph against Rangers at Ibrox – has perhaps allowed the Hibs support to raise their expectations a little.
However, those supporters – who have witnessed more false dawns for their underachiving club than they care to remember – know how dangerous that can be.
Midfielder Dylan McGeouch, though, reckons Saturday’s impressive 4-0 win at Livingston proves they have turned the corner following a difficult start.
He said: “We’re confident for next week and hopefully we can get a good result as well.
“It hasn’t been the best of starts but we’re starting to put performances in and starting to get the results now.
“Hopefully we can do well against Hearts. They’re doing really well, they’re winning games and that’s what we need to do from now on.
“We’re unbeaten in five but we need to start getting three points like we did on Saturday.
“We’re confident we can do that and hopefully we can do the same next week, start pushing on and pushing for the top of the league.”
McGeouch, who capped a dynamic display by adding the third goal from the penalty spot in West Lothian, insists that gap on the leaders is not insurmountable.
He added: “A win would definitely give us a boost in terms of our hopes of trying to catch Hearts, we just need to keep winning games.
“It’s the old cliche, one game at a time and we need to look after ourselves; whatever Hearts do, it’s up to them but we need to keep winning games and see where it takes us.
“If we can get closer to them and put in a wee challenge it would be great and good for Scottish football. We’re starting to get the goals now and hopefully it will be the same next week.”
Hibs went ahead after 31 minutes with a helping hand from Lions goalkeeper Darren Jamieson.
The shot-stopper, who became a reluctant internet star when he was beaten by opposite number Mark Oxley’s long punt during their loss at Easter Road in August, spilled David Gray’s cross and Dominique Malonga pounced on the rebound to find the net.
Jason Cummings then set up Danny Handling with a clever flick and the striker swept a drive into the corner of the net after 53 minutes.
McGeouch added a third with a cool penalty after Cummings was tripped by Craig Sives in the box before substitute Paul Heffernan completed the rout by getting on the end of Lewis Stevenson’s front post delivery.
McGeouch – on a season-long loan from Celtic – reckons Hibs are now benefiting from sticking to their footballing principles.
He added: “We’ve been playing really well the last few weeks. We showed against Livingston that we’ve got that wee bit of quality and we put the ball in the back of the net. It was comfortable in the end but overall it was a good performance from the whole team.
“We’ve always thought that it would come. We’re playing good football, we don’t just lump it forward.
“We get the ball down and pass it but we had not been getting the luck of the green.”
Livingston manager John McGlynn, whose side now sit bottom of the Championship on goal difference, said: “The first goal comes from a mistake from DJ but he has been different class for us so you can’t really complain about that.
“We didn’t deserve an awful low more, maybe 4-0 is a bit harsh.
“It’s a sore one but the best team won the game. Hibs are a better side than their league position has shown.
“We had a discussion after the game. We know we’re not working hard enough and being a soft touch. We have to get away from that.”