Hibs boss Terry Butcher is convinced the goals will begin to flow after Danny Handling’s winner against Ross County ended the Easter Road outfit’s five-game drought.
Handling’s strike was Hibs’ first in 553 minutes of action, the vast majority of which, of course, pre-dated Butcher’s arrival at the Capital club. But following a no-scoring draw against St Mirren in his opening match in charge, he detected signs of further improvement during the Scottish Cup triumph, which was his and Hibs’ first win in Dingwall.
Now Butcher is looking for further progress in his first home match, the visit of Partick Thistle on Saturday, well aware Hibs go into the clash as the Scottish Premiership’s lowest scorers having netted just nine goals in 14 games.
Again, though, Butcher insisted there’s nothing he can do about the past, adamant his eyes are firmly fixed on the future. He said: “I was pleased against Ross County because it was a step up from the previous week. I thought we passed it better, had more pressure in and around their penalty area.
“We are improving, small steps but significant steps as well and we notched up quite a few firsts, broke a few hoodoos which was nice. We were positive against St Mirren, even more so on Saturday and if we continue to improve I’ll be delighted. It comes with confidence.
“There’s no doubt the goals will come. We are making more opportunities, we’re getting more possession higher up the pitch, we’re quicker, sharper and if we keep pressurising teams, asking questions of their back four and having possession in the final third then the goals will come.” If Handling grabbed the headlines at Victoria Park with his first goal of the season, Butcher insisted the contribution of fellow striker James Collins shouldn’t be ignored, saying: “I was delighted with Danny. He’s growing in confidence as are all the lads but the goal was great play, a great ball through from Liam Craig, a good touch and a great finish.
“Danny and James are striking up a good understanding but I thought James was absolutely phenomenal. His work-rate was such you’d think he had three lungs. But I think we are playing to his strengths; he’s strong, aggressive, has good movement and touch, he draws people into the game and the lad is enjoying his football.”
Butcher revealed the normal Monday routine of “cake and craic” had followed the cup triumph although the focus has quickly turned to the visit of the Jags which will be Butcher’s first home game in charge of Hibs. He said: “It will have been three-and-a-half weeks since I became manager and the boys are looking forward to getting back to Easter Road.”
Meanwhile Butcher, who welcomed the prospect of a home tie against Raith Rovers in the fifth round of the Scottish Cup, revealed that midfielder Scott Robertson has been sent for what he hopes will prove to be a precautionary scan on the damaged hamstring which forced him off at the weekend.
He said: “He hasn’t pulled anything so we are optimistic he will be okay.” Butcher also revealed he’s had words with Ross Caldwell after the youngster’s reaction to being substituted against County, with the striker having apologised.
Tim Clancy will continue his comeback from injury by playing in the Under-20s against Dunfermline at Livingston tonight, kick-off 7pm.