Darren McGregor today admitted his pride had been hurt after Hibs conceded two goals for the first time in 12 games even although Alan Stubbs’ side avenged their opening day defeat by Dumbarton with a 4-2 victory.
Head coach Stubbs admitted he’d been left bitterly disappointed at the slackness which saw Grant Gallagher and Steven Craig score for the Sons, even although goals from Dominique Malonga, Liam Fontaine, Jason Cummings and James Keatings meant the win was never in doubt.
And stopper McGregor agreed wholeheartedly with his boss, Hibs having lost only one goal in their previous seven matches, giving them the best defensive record of any side in Britain.
He said: “We pride ourselves on clean sheets and to have that record was phenomenal, so it hurts even although we won the game.
“Liam, Dave Gray, Lewis Stevenson and myself are all hurting that we have lost a couple of goals through instances of slackness. It’s something we have to address.
“The most important thing, though, was the victory, but as defenders we’re well aware that by keeping clean sheets we have a greater chance of winning, especially when you have boys who can finish like Jason, James and Dominique. We’ve got a plethora of talent up front and a good variety of options.”
While Stubbs took the opportunity to return Keatings, Fraser Fyvie and Islam Feruz to action, the likes of hitmen Farid El Alagui and Henri Anier have yet to make an appearance this season, although both are now not far away from full fitness.
And that, McGregor admitted, has intensified the competition for places. He said: “When you look at the squad we could have put two teams out there. Training has been feisty as everyone seems to realise that if you are not playing well then there’s a chance you can be dropped. It raises the appetite and determination knowing you need to earn an eight or a nine every week to stay in the team.”
The win over Dumbarton began an important eight days for Hibs with trips to Falkirk tomorrow night and Raith Rovers on Saturday to come, with both of those clubs boasting exceptional home records.
McGregor said: “It’s an important week. Falkirk is a very difficult place to go. They are doing well as are Raith who have perhaps surprised a few people so it’s going to be tough. But we have given ourselves a platform with the win against Dumbarton and we need to prove to the neutrals and our own fans that we are good enough to go and compete with Rangers. There’s a deficit at the moment but we are looking to win every game and try to keep it as tight as possible until we play them a week on Sunday.”
Meanwhile, Hibs’ Development Squad were knocked out of the Little Big Shot Youth Cup yesterday, with Dundee running out 4-1 winners at Dens Park.