Last week’s League Cup defeat by Celtic was a difficult one to take for everyone connected with the club.
The first-half performance reinforced the fact that if you are prepared to put your opponents under pressure in their own territory then the rewards are forthcoming. It was always going to be difficult to sustain such a high tempo throughout the 90 minutes and I feel we really needed that two-goal cushion going into half-time if we were to have any chance of progressing to the semi-finals.
Losing such an early goal in the second period appeared to knock a bit of belief out of the players which enabled Celtic to create a bit of momentum where they took full advantage and attacked at will.
Had we managed to achieve a cup upset and enter the penultimate round, what a fantastic opportunity the club would have been in with the prospect of adding our second piece of silverware to the cabinet in the space of just five years.
No disrespect to the remaining sides in the competition but I truly believe we would have been more than capable of quashing any threats posed by Kilmarnock, Ayr United and Falkirk.
In this business of football, it is sometimes more beneficial after a defeat to get back on the park as quickly as possible and try to put things right. Any trip to Celtic Park is never easy, no matter the circumstances, and Saturday’s visit proved to be no different. We certainly went into the game as underdogs having been beaten comprehensively only three days prior.
However, we showed great strength of character to erase the memories of last Wednesday and turn in a creditable performance to leave the east end of Glasgow with a point, which not many could have foreseen.
If we could only add a bit more consistency to our game it would enable us to go to venues of this calibre with a lot more confidence and come away with three points. After speaking to a number of people with close Celtic connections, I felt encouraged by their positive appraisals of Hibs’ performance with some disclosing it had been their best for several years. If I am being true to myself, I couldn’t see us getting anything from the game so we have to look upon the point gained as a real gem.
There a lot of very important games ahead for the club and fixtures we really should be looking to take maximum points from. Victories are paramount over Dunfermline and Kilmarnock who both make the trip to Easter Road in the next few weeks. The current status of the league table proves there isn’t a lot between the majority of the sides and a couple of good results could really see us push up the table towards the top half.
I still feel the players are not playing with the composure I know they can and if they could just relax when in possession of the ball then their natural ability would prevail.
We must now put a winning run together where a strong mentality from all the players is pivotal to any success. It can’t always be pretty on the eye but I think most supporters would agree that gaining the three points at this stage is what’s most important. Free-flowing football is of course something we all desire but this may have to be put to one side at this moment in time. However, if a healthy accumulation of points can be accomplished in the foreseeable future then I am sure the glamour will return through time.
Finally, I must say I am particularly looking forward to Saturday’s home game with Dunfermline as it provides the opportunity to be reunited with the 1991 League Cup winning side. 2011 is of course the 20th anniversary of what was a very special day for the club so it will be great to see many of my teammates from that day and have a good catch-up whilst taking in the game.
Here’s hoping we see a similar result from the current Hibs team over our Fife opponents!