PAT FENLON today insisted he’d seen enough in just 45 minutes from his Easter Road stars to get over the disappointment of seeing his first match as Hibs boss called off.
The under-pressure Edinburgh outfit were a goal up through top scorer Garry O’Connor against high-flying Motherwell when fire engines were sent racing to Fir Park after an electrical fault caused a small blaze in floodlights in the stand occupied by visiting supporters.
Referee Willie Collum hoped extending the half-time interval would allow firefighters to deal with the situation and allow the game to continue.
But police match commander Chief Inspector Brian Connel insisted it be abandoned after firefighters were unable to give him an assurance there would be no repeat while only three of the four floodlights were left operational.
While he conceded there was no guarantee Hibs would have gone on to record a much-needed win, Fenlon claimed he’d been happy enough with what he’d seen, revealing he believes his side can start racking up the wins which eluded his predecessor Colin Calderwood.
He said: “We are very disappointed, We would have loved to see the game out and win it. It looked like we might do that, but it just wasn’t to be.
You can take something out of every game, though, and it is important we take the positives. I think the players showed what is in them. They are capable of performing like that on a regular basis and there is no reason why they shouldn’t.”
Fenlon revealed he was so wrapped up in the match he was totally unaware of the drama unfolding until the teams headed for the dressing-rooms at half-time. He said: “Billy [Brown, his assistant] said to me during the game that the fire engines had gone to the other stand, but I was too engrossed in the game and didn’t notice.
“It was only when we got in at half-time that we realised there was a small problem.
“We went in with the referee and he explained it was a health and safety decision rather than a football one and there wasn’t a lot we could do. I have had floodlight failure before, but I don’t think I have ever been involved in a game that was cancelled.”
Despite the disappointment, Fenlon led his players back onto the pitch to thank the Hibs fans who had made the journey to Lanarkshire for the second match of he SPL’s Friday night experiment.
He said: “It was a good turnout from our supporters on a bad night and they haven’t been enjoying the best of times over the past few months.
“It was important to recognise that. We all need to be together in the club and the supporters are part of that.”
While the SPL will be looking to reschedule the match, Fenlon will immediately begin reviewing a DVD of last night’s action, determined to use the experience to maximum benefit with Rangers due at Easter Road next Saturday.
He said: “We’ll watch it and see other things. I felt we defended well as a unit and we haven’t been doing that enough, so that is a major plus.
“We made some changes, but there has to be a bit of continuity in the team. We want solidity in the side. We worked the players hard in training and they embraced it.”