Too quiet on home front

Neil Lennon believes his team are something worth shouting about. He just doesn't understand why so many of the 14,000-plus fans who watched his men yesterday apparently disagree.
Hibs scorer Martin Boyle battles for control of the ball against St Mirrens Ben Gordon. Photograph: Ross Parker/SNS GroupHibs scorer Martin Boyle battles for control of the ball against St Mirrens Ben Gordon. Photograph: Ross Parker/SNS Group
Hibs scorer Martin Boyle battles for control of the ball against St Mirrens Ben Gordon. Photograph: Ross Parker/SNS Group

It was a comfortable 2-0 win that could have amounted to something far more one-sided had all the chances been taken, but while he was his usual animated and vocal self in the technical area, the stands were too silent for his liking.

“We dominated the game and that’s not always easy. But we were quiet. I don’t want to alienate myself from the supporters but we go a goal up and then it’s very, very quiet for periods of the game. We would like a bit more atmosphere to gee the players on a bit.

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“I don’t know if it is [that they expect to win] but you can’t just sit there and expect it to happen. I think some sections of the support could do their bit as well.

“It is a small issue but with the away support we get 90 minutes of singing and support and you can see that the players respond to that so we would just like a bit more noise in the stadium, especially when we score a beautiful goal like we did for the first. It was a great ball from [Andrew] Shinnie and a superb finish and we were unlucky not to get a few more. It was a good day’s work.”

A good afternoon that further illustrates the reason they are cast-iron favourites to run away with this Championship. Top of the league despite coming through the results blip that history tells us most sides will experience over the course of a season and now that they have regained their footing and the momentum they are looking more than comfortable.

St Mirren tried to unsettle them in the early stages of this one and could have taken the lead if Lewis Morgan, Stevie Mallan or Ryan Hardie had gained greater reward for them goal attempts but once Martin Boyle had made the breakthrough for Hibs the hopes of the Paisley side overhauling them were slim, those odds lengthened when Grant Holt added a second.

Lennon’s men have only conceded six goals on league business this term and while the pace and guile of Ryan Hardie and Lawrence Shankland gave them food for thought, it was never likely to choke them. Hibs looked too assured and St Mirren ran out of both attacking ideas and self-belief too quickly, penned back by a home side who were bolstered by the performance and pace of Boyle.

With Jason Cummings once again left on the bench, as the Hibs manager emphasised his point that no-one is a guaranteed starter, it was the speed merchant Boyle who was given the nod to replace the injured James Keatings and he vindicated his selection in the eighth minute. Perpetual motion and a persistent pest to the visiting defence, he chased and harried every ball, breathing down rivals’ necks as he nipped in to nick loose balls and sprinted into space to try to gather long passes in behind them.

“We see him more as a central player than as a winger,” said Lennon. “And he has goals in him. Technically he is good and he has that pace which is always a problem for defenders. Physically he is not the biggest and there are times when, early on in the season, he was getting knocked off the ball far too easily for our liking.

“He has taken that on board and we saw a very good all round performance from him, not just his pace and his trickery but also in taking the ball in and being a good link up player as well. I’m absolutely delighted with the contribution he made.”

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The attacker could have doubled his tally but while he darted onto Shinnie’s beautifully weighted ball for the opener, to calmly wait for Jamie Langfield to commit himself and then dink it over him and into the net, the later effort was driven low and blocked by the St Mirren keeper.

The experienced stopper could do nothing to stop Grant Holt’s 34th minute low strike, which slotted neatly just inside the post but he was a frustrating presence in the goal when the same player tried to double his own tally in the 74th minute, this time from the spot, after he had been felled by Gary Irvine.

The length of the Championship table separates the sides and at times that gulf was apparent, leaving Lennon annoyed that it was not better illustrated in the final score as one on one chances went the same way as that penalty miss.

“I just would have liked a better gloss on the scoreline. Me being me, I want more.”