Before I turn my attention to yesterday’s derby triumph, I’d like to reinforce the significance of last Wednesday night’s victory over St Johnstone. Coming off the back of two defeats to Dundee and Aberdeen, it was important we rediscovered our winning touch and so it proved thanks to Paul Cairney’s late strike. This gave us the momentum going into yesterday’s Scottish Cup tie and lifted the confidence of the players as we prepared to face our fiercest rivals.
The victory over Hearts was certainly not our finest performance of the season by any means, but the jubilation etched across Pat Fenlon’s face at full-time epitomised the significance of a result that means so much to everyone connected with the club.
Nevertheless a derby victory is there to be savoured, a moment we haven’t tasted too often in recent seasons. As expected, there was a real tension both on and off the pitch with so much at stake, but I felt we handled everything that Hearts threw at us with relative ease. The match was certainly devoid of goalscoring opportunities and was far from a classic, but David Wotherspoon’s late strike has put a spring in the step of every Hibernian supporter taking to their feet today. We can now head into 2013 with the next round of the Scottish Cup to look forward to.
The gut-wrenching feeling the morning after a derby loss is an aspect of this special fixture I am happy to see the back of. These are the days when you ultimately discover what the result means to the man on the street. This is the reality of the Edinburgh derby and the pressure that goes within this territory.
The pain we had to endure on that fateful day in May is something we all hope will never recur. It was therefore imperative it was the men in green-and-white celebrating this time around. The joyous scenes on the pitch highlighted the spirit among the squad at the moment which is hugely encouraging for all Hibs supporters.
The exhaustion will no doubt set in with a number of the players after the exertion of such a demanding fixture. The atmosphere from the stands showed there are not many derbies that can match the excitement of this Capital clash. We now need the supporters to pack Easter Road week in, week out and make the venue as daunting and intimidating as possible for visiting teams across the country.
The applause the manager received post-match underlined a unity between both the supporters and the manager. Now that Pat Fenlon has achieved his first victory over Hearts, I am sure he will stress to his players that we must find the ability to unearth more of these special victories. There are a lot of important fixtures sandwiched in between our next fixture with Hearts at Tynecastle in January, but wouldn’t it be nice to head across the city and emerge with another victory?
One disappointment from yesterday’s match was the enforced substitution of Leigh Griffiths who appeared to suffer a nasty ankle knock. We can only hope he makes a speedy recovery as the loss of such a potent goalscorer will certainly be felt.
Getting back to league business is always a challenge after a dramatic few days but I can sense an air of optimism circulating around Hibs. We have shown so far this season that we are capable of matching anyone on our day and long may this continue. We now travel to Inverness on Saturday in what is sure to be another tricky away day in the Highlands. We ended our Highland hoodoo last season with a crucial 3-2 victory in April so it would be satisfying to follow up that success with another three points. As I have previously mentioned, though, Terry Butcher always has his players well organised and they are a difficult force to break down. However, I have no reason to fear that we can’t travel back down to Edinburgh with another three points on the board.