PAT FENLON believes the quality of his January signings shone through as Hibs clinched a place in the last eight of the William Hill Scottish Cup with a narrow win over SPL rivals Kilmarnock.
The Easter Road boss fielded five of his new arrivals with two more on the bench while Honduran internationalist Jorge Claros – awaiting a work permit which Hibs hope will be secured before Saturday’s clash at home to Aberdeen – watched from the stand.
And it was the first of his signings, striker Eoin Doyle, who claimed the only goal of the game as the former Sligo Rovers star scored for the second time in the Scottish Cup following his goal in the previous round against Cowdenbeath.
But, while Doyle’s 15th minute goal was enough to separate the teams, a battling defensive performance led by new skipper James McPake frustrated Killie as they mounted a second-half onslaught in search of an equaliser.
McPake turned in a man-of-the-match performance while new full-backs Matt Doherty and Pa Kujabi played their part, Fenlon noting their willingness not only to tend to their defensive duties but a desire to act as auxiliary wingers when the opportunity arose.
Tom Soares, too, caught the eye in midfield while there was a substitute appearance for Roy O’Donovan.
Fenlon praised the part all the new arrivals had played in clinching the win with only a fifth clean sheet of the season.
“I thought the new signings did well, I thought they showed they have an appetite and workrate that the supporters will enjoy,” he said.
“It was a great team effort. We have brought some players in to help the squad and I think you saw we brought in some quality players.”
Fenlon admitted the shut-out was something of a bonus, Hibs having conceded 14 goals in their previous five matches. He said: “If you are solid defensively and do not concede goals you have a great chance of winning.
“We’ve been conceding too many over the course of the season so the players have to take out of that if you work hard and whatever it takes to defend, to not let people in on your goal you get your rewards and in the end we did.”
As satisfying as that performance was, though, Fenlon admitted he now faces a headache for the visit of the Dons with both McPake and fellow central defender Paul Hanlon suspended. “It’s a massive game and unfortunately we’ll be missing a couple which is disappointing. We’ll have to change it around again but it fives boys the opportunity to come back in and show me what they can do,” he said.