Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano today admitted that even he doesn’t know how he pulled off a stunning double save which kept the Easter Road side seven points clear at the top of the Championship table.
After racing into a two-goal lead against Dunfermline, Neil Lennon’s side found themselves up against it as Paul McMullan and Kallum Higginbotham pulled the Pars level.
Those strikes had Hibs on the ropes and, as Allan Johnston’s team went for a third, Marciano came to Hibs’ rescue, tipping a Michael Moffat shot on to the bar and then, as Nicky Clark looked certain to fire home the rebound, he somehow managed to block his effort.
Marciano, who later pulled off another great save, using his feet to keep out Clark’s close-range header, revealed he was delighted to have played his part in extending Hibs’ unbeaten run to 13 games.
The Israeli internationalist said: “This is my job so I’m more than happy to help my team when they need me. That’s why I came here. I think we needed to take more from this game especially with the situation in the league.
“We need to increase the gap but sometimes also one point is important. We could also have lost, so we try to stay positive.”
Asked what he rated as his best save of the game, the 26-year-old said: “The save on to the bar and then the rebound. I don’t know how it stayed out really. Sometimes you need luck and I have it just now.”
Playing behind the tightest defence in Britain, Marciano conceded he often doesn’t have much to do in games but he was happy on this occasion to show what is capable of. “You don’t have so much to do because you are the winning team and we have a good defence. But I’m happy that sometimes I can show my skills. If you ask me, I’d prefer to win this game and not save anything.”
Marciano admitted his team-mates had found it tough adapting from playing in front of a sell-out crowd in the Scottish Cup derby win against Hearts to facing Dunfermline but, while Lennon claimed his players were “running on fumes” at the end of the 90 minutes, his goalkeeper insisted fatigue couldn’t be used as an excuse.
He said: “If you want to reach a high level, play in the Premiership and dominate in the cup, we need to handle that. It’s not easy to go from a derby against Hearts with 20,000 people and that atmosphere to playing against Dunfermline. But this is how big teams manage themselves. As professionals, we have to do better. We looked a bit tired. It’s not an excuse, the boys did everything that they could.”
For the third league game in succession, Hibs missed the opportunity to widen the gap between themselves and the chasing pack but Marciano insisted he was happy with the seven-point advantage Hibs have with only 11 matches remaining.
He said: “I will be happy to be promoted at the end of the season so I don’t think so much about that. If you had told me at the start of the season that this would be the gap, I would have been happy about that.
“We have the chance to increase the gap every week, especially when the other teams drop points. We know that we can win every match, but sometimes it is good not to lose. Mentally, it makes us stronger but we have to play better.”