Colin CALDERWOOD today insisted his Hibs stars hadn’t become over-anxious about playing at Easter Road despite having clocked up a dismal record of seven months without an SPL win at home.
Other than a Scottish Communities League Cup win over Third Division Berwick Rangers, the Hibs boss hasn’t seen his side enjoy a victory in Edinburgh since defeating Inverness Caley at the end of February.
Draws against Aberdeen and Dundee United have been the best results achieved so far this season making, Calderwood admitted, victory over St Johnstone in tonight’s rearranged match imperative.
The game has been outstanding since August when Hibs took advantage of an SPL dispensation to take on English Premier League side Sunderland in an early season friendly and presents an incentive for both sides.
A win for Hibs would, despite a poor start to the season, lift them to just three points behind fourth-placed Hearts, while a triumph for Derek McInnes’ players would see them leap-frog the Jambos.
Calderwood’s players have managed a steady run of four matches undefeated so far this month although, other than a penalty shoot-out League Cup win over Motherwell, all games have ended in draws with Hibs conceding as many goals as they have scored.
Now Calderwood is looking for the solidity in defence shown in the no-scoring stalemate with Aberdeen to be married to the undoubted goal threat his side carries with Garry O’Connor leading the way on eight.
He said: “We do need to have a balance. We have been scoring enough goals to win games and we have been involved in exciting matches.
“We were pretty solid against Aberdeen but not effective at the other end and when we have been effective at the other end we have been extravagant at our own end.”
Calderwood readily accepts there is room for much improvement, particularly on the defensive side of things, adding: “It look when you cannot get a win you have almost got to do everything picture perfect and I think it will be like that for us to get a clean sheet.
“But at the end of the day if we win 3-2 I would accept it at the minute.”
While jeers have resounded around Easter Road at times, both in the closing stages of last season and at times in recent weeks, Calderwood was adamant playing at home hadn’t become more difficult for his players.
He said: “I don’t think so. We were 2-1 and 3-1 down at the weekend but I did not feel the crowd were putting excess pressure on the players, I didn’t think that at all.”
As for the poor home record stretching back seven months, Calderwood insisted “experimentation” after his side had extricated themselves from the danger of becoming embroiled in a relegation battle was a partial explanation.
But he agreed: “We should have a home win this year, that’s the only way you get off the hook with that stat.”
Meanwhile, Calderwood will leave a decision on whether to play Leigh Griffiths until the last minute. The Scotland Under-21 striker has been receiving intensive treatment for a foot injury sustained in the final few minutes of the United match and is anxious to face the Saints.
Calderwood said: “Leigh didn’t train on Monday but did a bit yesterday. He’ll get a bit more treatment. He is up for playing but he has to be able to run free without any negative thoughts in his head because of soreness.”