Given our current run of form, there was no great surprise with the defeat inflicted on us by Celtic at the weekend.
Celtic were, of course, hoping to be officially crowned SPL champions and, although this didn’t materialise, we are not equipped at this moment to spoil any party.
Picking up any kind of result at Celtic Park isn’t easy at the best of times and, if you aren’t at the top of your game both individually and collectively, it is likely to be a long afternoon for any visiting side. It was a lacklustre performance from the players who offered very little to a match we always seemed destined to lose. Who would have thought a team battling it out at the top of the table at the tail-end of last year would be sitting in ninth position after 33 games?
It is hugely disappointing to be in the position we find ourselves in during a league campaign that promised so much more. Apart from Celtic and Dundee, this season’s SPL has produced one of the tightest battles in recent years. It has produced a lot of uncertainty but, from a neutral’s perspective, it has created a lot of suspense for the other ten clubs.
Reading within the past week about clubs, including Ross County, who have secured a top-six finish in their first season in the SPL must be incredibly disheartening for all Hibs supporters. Of course, you have to respect the job Derek Adams has done as they justifiably deserve their place in the top half and the possibility of a European spot for next season, but these are the honours Hibernian Football Club should be challenging for. This is the reality we unfortunately face but, as we all know, there has been a slow decline at the club for a number of years which will continue to fester until things are moved on both financially and with player recruitment.
Momentum is so important in today’s game and this is something our opponents this Saturday at Hampden are carrying in abundance. Falkirk have now gone four games unbeaten, their most recent a 4-0 thrashing of Cowdenbeath which underlines the kind of form the First Division side are currently enjoying. We, on the other hand, have found ourselves in poor form with three consecutive league defeats and struggling for goals where there appears to be a lack of confidence throughout the side and this could well work in Falkirk’s favour.
Ahead of such an important fixture, our most important of the season so far, I have to admit I am deeply concerned about our recent performances which have seen us fail to record a victory since our last Scottish Cup tie at Kilmarnock at the beginning of last month. However, we must carry hope that the players can rise to the occasion and perform together that will secure us a place in this year’s final.
Falkirk are themselves no strangers to the big stage and have shown over the years they are more than capable of producing a performance when it matters. We need to be respectful but also acknowledge that we are the SPL side and need to show why this is the case. A player who has shown throughout the season he can produce a sparkle out of nothing is none other than Leigh Griffiths. He will have such a vital role to play on Saturday and I am sure Falkirk will be singling the striker out as the individual who will pose the greatest threat. Griffiths possesses the character that appeals to the high-profile games and there is, almost, no bigger occasion than this weekend.
Aside from everything else, this is an opportunity for the players to save the club’s season and perhaps pick up a Scottish Cup winner’s medal en route.
The Hibs supporters heading through to the national stadium will again have a significant role to play in creating an atmosphere that can lead the side to victory. Let’s just hope this won’t be our last trip to Hampden this season and we will be making a return on May 26.