Like any footballer Jordon Forster loves seeing the ball hit the back of the opposition net. But the big defender today admitted he’d happily swap scoring for a clean sheet at the other end.
Shut-outs have proved elusive for Alan Stubbs’ team so far this season, goalkeeper Mark Oxley forced to pick the ball out of his net at least once in every game. It’s been a source of exasperation for all at Easter Road and a problem Forster says has been worked on relentlessly.
However, he is convinced that once Hibs stop leaking what their head coach has described as “silly, stupid goals,” the firepower they possess will soon produce the winning results everyone is looking for.
The Capital club needed all of that firepower to come from behind and defeat Cowdenbeath 3-2 last weekend having produced a similar fightback to overcome Dumbarton in the League Cup in their previous home game. But while those sort of performances produce plenty of excitement for the fans, Forster admitted he and his team-mates would far rather not put themselves through such traumas.
Having notched his first goal of the season in opening the scoring against the Blue Brazil, Forster, who scored four times last season, said: “It’s always good to get a goal but as a defender you always pride yourself on keeping them out at the other end.
“It’s great for the team if we can get goals from all over the pitch and I’ve set myself a target for what I want to achieve at the end of the season but, 100 per cent, I’d gladly swap a goal for a clean sheet. As defenders you are judged by keeping the ball out of your own net rather than scoring at the other end.
“It’s something for us to work on as a team probably more than just the back four. We are still scoring goals, though, so hopefully we can tighten up at the back and continue to put them in at the other end.
“I’d imagine some of our fans leave Easter Road with their hearts still in the mouths. It’s exciting for them but we’d like to tighten things up and we have been working on that in training this week and looking to put it in place in the next three games.”
The flip side to those comebacks against Cowdenbeath and Dumbarton, however, is that Stubbs’ players have shown a never-say-die attitude, something Forster admitted was probably missing last season as Hibs slowly but surely headed for relegation.
He said: “Last season if we lost a couple of goals we might just have gone into our shells and not played. But this season we have been fighting back.”
Life in the Championship has probably proved tougher than most Hibs fans might have imagined, but, Forster insisted, Stubbs’ players have to be able to live with the pressure of going in to the vast majority of games as favourites.
He said: “I think if you look at Rangers over the past couple of years they’ve had a lot of close games and people were saying they should be doing better. But I also feel they are learning that it does not work like that in football, it can be a funny game. We have learned in the last few games that it’s a cup final for other teams and they are up for it.
“We are expected to win when last season we were perhaps not expected to win as many games. We are still in a rebuilding process but we have to learn quickly about putting games to bed and keeping clean sheets. We need to get a bit of consistency into our results.
“We played well against Rangers in the Challenge Cup and didn’t get anything and it was the same against Falkirk. If we want to do well and get promoted we have to be able to win whether we play well or not.
“But we are working hard on that on the training ground, I can assure everyone as to how hard the boys are working and I am confident things will click even more than they have done already.”
Forster has also set about rebuilding his partnership with Paul Hanlon in central defence, the former Scotland Under-21 skipper having missed the final ten matches of last season with a knee injury and then sitting out four more this time round with another knock before returning last weekend.
He said: “Paul has helped me a lot in my early career. Getting him back has given the place a lift. Since the gaffer has come in he’s tried to make us all leaders but Paul is a leader, he’s been captain of the club and he is still only 24. He’s still got a long way to go in his career but he has helped me massively.”
Hibs will be going a long way not only today when they travel to face the most southerly club in the top two tiers of Scottish football but again on Tuesday night when they make the long haul to Dingwall to face the most northerly, Ross County in the League Cup.
It’s a night which will mark Forster’s 21st birthday and while it’s not quite what he envisaged, he’s quite happy to accept it as part of life as a football player.
He said: “It’s not ideal but that’s life. We’ll be starting off early in the morning and getting back in the early hours of Wednesday morning but if we go up there and progress in the cup then it will be a very good birthday for me.”