Despite a disappointing turnout at Easter Road yesterday, I could sense a real anticipation within the stands as supporters begin to turn their attention to next weekend’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen.
All the answers will be revealed when the starting XI take to the field at Hampden on Saturday lunchtime. How ironic would it be for a team who have struggled for the majority of the season to be back at the national stadium in May for the showpiece event of the football season? There is no need for me to spell out what a Scottish Cup triumph would mean to all connected with Hibernian.
I don’t believe yesterday’s performance against Motherwell will be good enough to see us past Aberdeen but, I suppose, it’s another point gained towards eliminating the threat of relegation. After taking the lead through a wonderful Garry O’Connor free-kick, we allowed ourselves to retreat farther into our own half which enabled our opponents to find their flow for the majority of the second half. When every point is so precious at this moment in time, it is difficult to find a remedy for this.
It appears to be a case of trying to hold on to what we have gained as opposed to looking for that killer second goal which can be an extremely dangerous game to play. We must learn to kill teams off when finding ourselves in front. Similarly, as the majority of Hibs supporters, I won’t find any comfort until it’s mathematically impossible for the club to be relegated. The sooner this has been established, the better, as it has been a season filled with high emotions and it would be great to finally put this issue firmly to bed.
It is good to see the partnership of Garry O’Connor and Leigh Griffiths been reignited in recent weeks as both have the gift of finding the net when the pressure is on as demonstrated in the win at Inverness. The long and open park at Hampden should suit both providing they receive the service required. I know O’Connor has been working hard on his fitness off the field and he certainly looks to be finding some form at this stage of the season which can only benefit the team in the final third of the pitch.
Aberdeen’s victory over Dundee United at the weekend was perhaps a real coupon buster for many, but I was not in the least bit surprised at the outcome of this match. The players in the Aberdeen squad will have all cast an eye over the semi-final and viewed this fixture as one final opportunity to stake their claim for a starting position at Hampden. Dundee United were certainly on a good run as well so we must be wary of the threat the Dons will pose.
Pat Fenlon and his management team will be reinforcing the importance of Saturday’s game where the whole squad has to be at the top of their game to give ourselves any chance. It will be a new experience for some of them but we can’t afford to carry any passengers. These types of games generally tend to throw up a hero on the day, and as long as that player is wearing the green and white of Hibernian, the rest will be history.
If the team can embrace the occasion and play with a passion that the latter stages of cup competitions deserve, it can be a day to remember for all those concerned.
With a good support behind any side, professional footballers can often find that little bit extra in their play, and knowing the club’s supporters well, a good turnout is sure to be present on the day.
There have been many footballers who have played the game for many years and never had the honour of lacing up their boots ahead of a big game at the national stadium. It should be seen as a privilege to run out the tunnel and represent your club in these fixtures and I just hope the players don’t let the occasion pass them by. Only time will tell if this is Hibernian’s moment of truth.