KEVIN THOMSON admits that the man-of-the-match award he picked up for his performance against Inverness meant next to nothing in light of the costly defeat suffered by Hibs.
The 2-1 loss to the Highlanders at the weekend was a result that leaves Hibs facing an uphill struggle for one of the remaining places in the top half of the SPL table.
Thomson was one of the few positives on an otherwise disappointing afternoon, although young Alex Harris ran him close for the award on his first start for the top team.
While Thomson was delighted to get 90 minutes under his belt, he would have sacrificed personal recognition for the victory that would have kept them in the driving seat ahead of the split.
Instead – midweek results permitting – they now have just one game – Saturday’s trip to face Celtic at Parkhead – in which to rescue their league season.
Thomson said: “I would rather have been really poor myself and the team won the game and got three points on the board.
“I do take a pride in my own performance and I like to think that I have a drive and determination.
“I am here to prove a point and when you get recognised for a personal performance it is always nice but I would sacrifice that for a victory any day.
“I think now the boys have just got to keep at it, keep working hard. It is a fantastic place to play football so, fingers crossed, that we can get back into it this week, put this result behind us and start looking forward to next weekend and the game against Celtic.”
Hibs know that their trip to Parkhead could be rendered almost meaningless if Kilmarnock win their midweek fixture against St Mirren tomorrow night. Victory for the Ayrshire side, who currently sit on 41 points and have played a game less, would make it mathematically impossible for Hibs to catch them.
However, even if the chance of a top six place is gone, Thomson says Hibs must travel to the East End of Glasgow in the right frame of mind and believing that they can achieve a victory.
“We have got to believe that we can go there and win,” he added. “I believe that we can beat anyone, that’s just the type of player and person that I am and I think you have got to have that belief if you are to achieve anything.
“It doesn’t matter what game we have coming up or where we need to go and play, you have got to have confidence in your own ability.
“I am not naive, I know that it is going to be tough and it will be difficult to get any kind of change out of them. They are the SPL champions and are going to be again this season and that in itself says a lot about them.
“But we need to go there believing that we can get something.”
Like his manager, Pat Fenlon, Thomson was unhappy with the manner of the goals that Hibs conceded in the defeat by Terry Butcher’s side, although he insisted that much credit must go to the Highlanders for the way they have gone about their business this season. Caley are among the runners for a place in Europe next season and Thomson continued: “The boys were disappointed with the goals that we conceded. They were really sloppy on our behalf.
“We got the rub of the green with the goal that we scored, too, but it doesn’t make it any easier.
“When we brought it back to 1-1 I thought we were in the ascendancy so to lose such a cheap goal was really disappointing. After that I thought that we huffed and puffed a bit without really creating any clear-cut chances.
“In the end it probably suited them, parking the bus a bit and defending for their lives. Credit has to go to them because they managed to see the game out and go home with all three points.”
Saturday was Thomson’s first start since returning to the club last month, the former Middlesbrough and Rangers midfielder having returned to Easter Road action by coming off the bench during the goalless draw in the Edinburgh derby. He reckons that he is feeling sharper with every minute he plays and believes that, with their backing, the Hibs supporters will soon see the best of him again.
“That is only my first game in two-and-a-half or three months. Game by game I am sure that I will get better. I am feeling better every day in training so, fingers crossed that I will keep on getting sharper and sharper.
“This is a great place to come and play your football – and it’s obviously familiar surroundings for me. I said when I came back here that it is nice to be appreciated and the manager appreciates me, the chairman appreciates me and hopefully the fans will appreciate me too.
“That can only bring out the best in a footballer.”
With Hibs looking almost certain to miss out on a place in the top six, their attentions after the Celtic game will turn to the Scottish Cup semi-final against Falkirk in just under two weeks’ time.
Thomson admits that it will be painful if Hibs miss out on the top half but has a longer-term ambition to break Hibs’ hoodoo in the Cup competition.
“I am a Hibs fan myself and I know the hoodoo that lies above the club and how much the supporters hurt because of that and particularly because of the final against Hearts last season,” he said.
“The other team across the city have got more bragging rights than us when it comes to that competition and that’s hard for them to take.
“I am no different and I feel for them.
“I am here to try and help achieve that goal but we have got to go to Parkhead first before we can even think about the semi-final.
“It’s at the back of our minds, obviously, because it is something that we would desperately love to win.”