Hibs’ fighting spirit makes Chris Maxwell feel proud after shootout win

Chris Maxwell gets a hug from manager Paul Heckingbottom after his penalty heroics. Picture: SNS.Chris Maxwell gets a hug from manager Paul Heckingbottom after his penalty heroics. Picture: SNS.
Chris Maxwell gets a hug from manager Paul Heckingbottom after his penalty heroics. Picture: SNS.
It was hardly one for the aesthetes. That fact, though, is precisely why keeper Chris Maxwell took greater delight playing his part in Hibernian’s slugfest penalty shootout success over Kilmarnock on Wednesday that has set up a Betfred Cup semi-final against Celtic next month than had the victory been one for the 

“I am proud of every single one of the boys. It was a tough, tough game,” the 29-year-old said. “I said after the last Killie game they are a good team, no pushovers and well-organised, who fight for everything and I would rather we won with that sort of performance than with pretty football because it shows we can do that side when some people say we can’t. Hopefully that’s turned and we can crack on.

“We were excellent in that we did the hard things right. We were hard to beat, we stuck a foot in when we needed to, we passed the ball when we needed to, to come through and get to Hampden, so it was an excellent.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Maxwell declared it “fun” to be involved in a shootout he settled by thwarting Niko Hamalainen, whose tame penalty was helpfully hit straight into the middle of goal.

The keeper has enjoyed an attention-grabbing week after his debut in the derby loss at home to Hearts resulted in him being one of the few in Hibs colours to emerge with credit. He hopes that both his fortunes and those of the club he joined in June on loan from Preston are in the process of changing.

“I like penalty shoot-outs, I like that environment and my record isn’t bad,” said Maxwell. “It’s one of them; if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be and luckily tonight it was meant to be for me and all the boys and we are going to go and enjoy the semi-final.

“I feel we haven’t had the breaks this season. Look back to the goal against Hearts, the winner [by Aaron Hickey] if it was that much higher or lower when it comes off Josh Vela’s foot it does not go in, I save it or it hits the bar. So we have lacked that bit of luck. Hopefully it has turned round now.

“To see us not winning and things going against us, it’s been heartbreaking. But I give credit to the manager, the staff and all the boys. We have stuck in there, we’ve grafted away, we have proved tonight that we can do them things and when you get a slice of luck we take it.”

Heckingbottom more than anyone else in the Hibs camp will be crossing his fingers that Betfred Cup progress will lead to better in a league campaignin which they are without a win since the opening day of the season. In the wake of the the vanquishing by Hearts the clamour for the 43-year-old Englishman’s tenure to be ended after eight months was intense.

The sense of tension surrounding the club in recent times was inescapable, Maxwell concedes,but while others lost their reason over Heckingbottom’s suitability for his position, the keeper maintains the manager retained his 

“I’ve known the manager for a long time and the effort he puts in from day to day is second to none,” Maxwell said. “I think he is a very good, honest guy and he works hard for everybody. He’s been exactly the same these past couple of weeks.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“ Every single one of us in the dressing room and the manager and staff believe that we are a good team and we believed it would turn round. That game (at Kilmarnock) symbolises, hopefully, a change and we have to build on that now. So he deserves the little bit of luck we got. We proved we can do that side of the game and we have to take that in to Saturday, put in a similar performance and you never know.”