Hibs boss Pat Fenlon today warned his Easter Road stars it’s vital they maintain their unbeaten home record – or risk falling down the SPL table.
Fenlon’s players go into tomorrow’s clash with St Mirren knowing a win could take them top for 24 hours at least, but with only six points separating Hibs from the Buddies in second bottom place he is well aware that defeat can have a massive effect on the club’s standing.
The Capital outfit found themselves in a similar position a fortnight ago when they travelled to face Ross County, then one off the bottom, only to be beaten 3-2, although they recovered with a 4-0 away hammering of Motherwell to reclaim second spot.
Not only are Hibs unbeaten at Easter Road, they now boast the best home record in the top flight, one Fenlon is anxious to see continue.
He said: “I didn’t think it would be as tight, to be honest. The League is so compact one or two results can take you from one end of the table to the other. We have a decent home record and we want to keep that going and the way it is, it is really important you pick up points at home.
“I knew from watching Scottish football previously that Easter Road was always a tough place for teams to come and play. The Old Firm did not fancy coming here too often. We spoke at the start of the season of getting back to that, of making sure it’s our pitch, our stadium and wanting to make it intimidating for opposing teams.”
Hibs’ record has seen crowds at Easter Road slowly rise, the gate for their last home game, the 3-0 win over Dundee,
topping 10,000 for only the second time this season, and Fenlon admitted he’d be “interested” to see the attendance tomorrow.
But while chairman Rod Petrie appealed this week for fans disenchanted by two
seasons of failure to return and help boost Fenlon’s
January transfer budget, the manager himself believes a winning team will be the stronger pull.
He said: “It’s gradually
creeping up and hopefully it creeps up a little bit more tomorrow.
“That’s the part we can play, if we play well and get results you get bigger crowds and that can benefit eveeryone.
“We said from the start it’s been a couple of years where it’s not been nice to follow the club.
“We have lost a section of the supporters because of that. It’s a good place to come and watch games - once the product on the pitch is good enough.
“But I’m not sure fans think ‘if I go to the game the manager will get a bigger budget’.
“They go because their team are doing well and to be fair we’ve sold a fair amount of season tickets on the back of a couple of bad seasons and the support we took last week was probably the best bar Celtic.”
Meanwhile, Fenlon admitted his priority ahead of the
transfer window is to secure the future of Leigh Griffiths, Jorge Claros and Ryan McGivern until at least the end of the season, with the trio’s loan deals all due to expire in January.