Two goals down with only 12 minutes to play and it looked as if Liam Fontaine’s Hibs debut was going to be a game to forget.
But instead it turned into a night to remember as two goals by Farid El Alagui and a stunning last-minute winner by substitute Sam Stanton left Dumbarton reeling – and out of the League Cup.
Fontaine would like the same outcome tomorrow but without the late drama when Ian Murray brings his side to Easter Road for the second time in a little more than six weeks.
But, the big defender insisted, this time will be entirely different with Championship points up for grabs rather than making progress in a cup competition, the Sons arriving in the Capital determined to extend a run of five matches unbeaten and knowing victory would lift them above Alan Stubbs’ team in the standings.
He said: “Last time we knew everything had to be settled on the night, whether over the 90 minutes or after extra time, as it was very much looking, or even penalties. It was a typical cup tie, all about getting into the next round.
“We threw everything at it and that’s what we managed to do, and have even gone on to make further progress with that win up at Ross County and hopefully we can do likewise when we play Dundee United in a couple of weeks’ time.
“Tomorrow we don’t know how Dumbarton will set up. Will they come looking to win or to sit in, try to frustrate us and maybe look on a point as being a decent result? It’s all about making sure we’re ready for whatever we come up against.
“First and foremost we have to be willing to apply ourselves, to match anything they do, win our own personal battles and look to impose our style on the game because, as we have shown, we have players in our team who can score goals.”
Fontaine may have endured a rollercoaster introduction to Scottish football, but today the former Bristol City stopper feels far better equipped than he was when asked to play only hours after the final pieces of paperwork on his move north were completed.
He said: “I’d actually signed for Hibs the day before but had to wait for international clearance to come through.
“It did on the day of the game but I had prepared for the game as normal and was ready to play. It did look as if it was going to be a night to forget but the manger threw on good subs and they changed the game for us, although it did look as if we were heading for extra time before Sam scored.
“I honestly felt fine about that prospect. I hadn’t been able to do pre-sesaon training with anyone in particular. I was training by myself. But my basic fitness was quite good and I felt okay at that point. Now I am a lot fitter than I was then.”
Although disappointed not to have backed up those away wins against Ross County and Rangers with a third victory over Raith Rovers last weekend – Stubbs’ players forced to settle for a draw – Hibs are finally displaying a degree of consistency, three games without defeat and now in the upper half of the Championship table, even if they lie 12 points behind leaders and Capital rivals Hearts.
However, Fontaine was adamant that particular statistic wasn’t weighing heavily on the minds of himself or his team-mates. He said: “I think that would be a concern if there were only four games to go. But there’s no point worrying about it, we can’t change what has happened. It’s a case of going into every game focusing on the three points and we’ll see where things stand towards the end of the season.
“Of course there are always going to be comparisons made when you have two clubs in the one city – it was the same at Bristol – but we are working our hardest to put this club back where it belongs. We’ve climbed the table, our fortunes seem to have turned a bit and we’ve put in some good performances.
“We want to keep that going. We all know football is a results business so it’s all about putting in consistent performances to keep those results coming. We did well at Ibrox but we can’t put too much focus on just the one game. We’ve got to try to ensure we’re picking up three points every week.”
Fontaine would like to get his name on the scoresheet, even though he has managed just seven goals in a career which has included spells at Fulham, Yeovil, Kilmarnock, Bristol City and Hibs.
He said: “We saw Scott Robertson, a midfielder, score against Raith. Jordon Forster and David Gray have also scored in recent weeks which shows we have goals in the team. I haven’t managed too many but it would be good to get one here at Hibs sooner rather than later.”