Pat Fenlon today challenged his Easter Rod stars to prove their miserable performance against Inverness Caley was “just a blip” when they face Scottish Premiership new boys Partick Thistle on Monday night.
A six-match unbeaten run which had taken Hibs into the top half of the table and the quarter-finals of the Scottish Communities League Cup was brought to an abrupt halt in the Highlands as the Capital club were crushed 3-0, leaving Fenlon to question his players’ desire as they found themselves over-run in the second half.
But Fenlon believes they can make amends at Firhill. He said: “I’m convinced the defeat in Inverness was just a blip because we were on a good run of form before that. We came up against a good side and didn’t perform to the levels we’d reached before and they punished us for it.
“I thought the second half wasn’t us and I was really disappointed. There wasn’t a lot in the first 45 minutes, but we were second best after half-time. It was the first time in a while I haven’t had a performance out of them and I know we’re better than that.
“They’re top of the league for a reason . . . it’s because they are an excellent team. But we have to make sure we turn up for the full 90 minutes in games. We’ve done well in the six or seven games before Inverness and that’s why we were so disappointed with it.”
Fenlon jumped to the defence of goalkeeper Ben Williams, who drew flak for his part in Caley Thistle’s opening goal, a mix-up between him and centre half Michael Nelson gifting hotshot Billy McKay the opener after only ten minutes.
The Hibs boss said: “Ben is a really good goalkeeper and he’ll bounce back. He held his hands up for the first goal in Inverness and every player is allowed to have a poor game once in a while. His temperament and game mentality is excellent so it won’t be a problem for Ben.”
Fenlon revealed he hopes the fact the match has been put back 48 hours to accommodate the television cameras will give veteran defender Alan Maybury a hope of facing the Jags after a knock sustained in the League Cup win over Stranraer ruled him out of playing against Caley, his absence along with long-term injury victim Tim Clancy forcing the left-footed Lewis Stevenson to again stand in at right back.
He said: “Alan is due to train today and, as long as he feels right, he’ll be in the squad. With the game being on Monday night, it has given him a few extra days to recover.”