Scott Robertson is out on his own at the moment, holding the record of being the only Hibs player to score at Easter Road this season, but the midfielder believes that tag will soon be lost as Pat Fenlon’s side finally hit their stride.
After a difficult start to the season, the Easter Road outfit go into tomorrow’s clash with struggling St Mirren seeking to make it five games without defeat, with, of course, all eyes focused on building on last weekend’s victory over St Johnstone with another three points.
And in doing so, Robertson insisted, they can begin to rid themselves of another unwanted record, that of having only won one league game on home turf in this calendar year, a narrow 1-0 triumph over relegated Dundee.
As unimpressive as if may sound, though, Robertson pointed to the fact that seven of the 11 games played ended in draws as evidence to support his contention that many clubs arrive in the east end of Edinburgh intent on making life as difficult as possible for the Hibees. Equally, the former Dundee, Dundee United and Blackpool star agreed, it was up to him and his team-mates to overcome such resistance and build the sort of formidable home record upon which successful seasons are built.
When Hibs were flirting with the very top of the table around a year ago it was very much down to the fact Fenlon’s side were the last of all the top-flight clubs to lose their unbeaten home record, something that didn’t happen until well into November.
He said: “Our away record obviously looks a lot better than our home one does at the moment but there’s no reason why that can’t change. If we’d been able to turn half the draws we’ve had over the course of this year into wins then what a difference that would have made both last season and this.
“And there were games we should have won, you think back to the Hearts game when Leigh Griffiths’ free-kick was well in, but the goal wasn’t given and then a match against St Mirren when we were 3-1 up, but only drew. Even our last game at Easter Road against Ross County could have gone our way – had James Collins’ header been a couple of inches the other way it would have been in rather than coming back off the post.”
Hard luck stories, though, don’t wash. It’s goals and wins the fans want to see, with Robertson admitting that if Fenlon’s players can smash yet another unwanted record they hold – of not having scored the first goal in a match – then Easter Road will become a much happier place, Robertson and his team-mates having become well used to the home support becoming edgy and anxious, a reaction he well understands.
He said: “The fans are like that because of what they see on the pitch. You can’t point the finger at them. If we do what we should on the pitch that will spark a reaction from them.
“It’s all very well having the character and resilience to come back and rescue a point or to win, as we have against United, Kilmarnock and now St Johnstone, but it’s far better to get yourselves in front. I’m sure if they see us getting in front in the next few games and staying there they will be singing their hearts out. We saw that against United, the game turned in our favour after the two red cards. United were sitting in trying to protect that 1-0 lead but we began to pass the ball better and once we got the goal the fans were right behind us.”
Robertson knows from experience just how tough a place Easter Road can be when Hibs are on song, recalling his own first game for Dundee there. He said: “I made my debut in the Scottish Cup against a Hibs team with the likes of Scott Brown, Kevin Thomson and Garry O’Connor when Tony Mowbray was manager. They were running riot, scoring goals for fun. They were a youthful side full of enthusiastic players with a lot of ability and when you put those two things together they thoroughly entertained the crowd. Hibs were one of the best teams in Scotland and Easter Road was a very daunting place to go.”
Few would argue with the observation that Fenlon’s team are some way off Mowbray’s but, Robertson insisted, Hibs are moving in the right direction with Fenlon having assembled a squad which, according to skipper James McPake, is as good as the club has had in some time.
Robertson doesn’t disagree, saying: “We’ve a really good squad. The manager has added in probably the right places so now it is up to us to make sure Easter Road is a place people don’t like coming to, somewhere they’ll hope to get a point at best.”
Fenlon rated Hibs’ second-half performance at McDiarmid Park as their best of the season so far. Again, Robertson is in total agreement, insisting that there was much to enjoy from the display beyond the victory itself. He said: “I think there were positives all round. To be honest, I don’t think many people would have been giving us much of a chance. Saints had started their season well and hadn’t lost at home since we beat them last November, but after the first 20 minutes or so I thought we were the better team and deserved the win.
“For all we’ve been said to have started poorly, we are now on the same points as them, but this league is so tight that can change from week to week.
“Obviously we’ve gained a lot of confidence from last week. There were a lot of positives, first and foremost the result, Paul Heffernan and James Collins getting their first goals for the club which delighted everyone, James McPake getting back on the pitch after quite a period out and Abdellah Zoubir making his debut.
“Zouby is definitely going to give us something different, he’s someone who will be able to unlock the door for us if teams do try to sit in. In the ten minutes he was on the pitch at St Johnstone he contributed a lot, crated a few chances and I’m sure he’ll do that in most games. There’s a lot to be excited about.”