Saturday’s victory in Paisley showed just how unpredictable football can be.
Our defeat last weekend to Motherwell coinciding with St Mirren’s creditable draw at Ibrox had the bookmakers banking on the Buddies securing all three points. However, it was hugely encouraging to see Hibs come from 2-1 behind to run out victorious in what can be a very difficult place for visiting teams to go. Credit must go to the players and staff for showing grit and determination to leave us looking forward to Wednesday night’s cup tie with Celtic.
It should not be underestimated what a hard-fought victory like Saturday’s can do for the club as a whole. The players can begin the new week with a spring in their step and relish a double header with the Glasgow giants. Colin Calderwood decided to make a few changes from last Saturday and it was good to see youngsters David Wotherspoon and Danny Galbraith handed a slot from the start. The manager got his tactics spot on and picked the right time to unleash Leigh Griffiths. The youngster’s second goal was so clinically dispatched and gave us a crucial lead going into the half-time break. It is now comforting to see other players aside from Garry O’Connor chip in with some goals, which will make us a greater attacking threat all-round. Both sides had opportunities to add to their goals tally in the second period but our work in the first half proved to be just enough.
I’ve always felt it is how you recover from a defeat that is most important and this is when the winners step forward and make sure it doesn’t become a regular outcome. The players showed a great resilience and put the disappointment of last weekend firmly to bed. St Mirren are formidable opposition, particularly at home, and it may turn out we are one of the few teams who will enjoy such success there this season.
Cup football has a similar theme no matter where it is played in the world where the side that shows a greater desire and plays on the day will ultimately prevail. I believe this week’s tie is the perfect draw for Hibs as, with any match against the Old Firm, the pressure is all on Celtic.
The players need to go out with a bit of self belief and not allow Celtic too much respect as the visitors possess the talent to capitalise on any weaknesses in our game. The players must, for the time being, put the league campaign to the back of their minds and focus on the task in hand. These can prove nights where heroes are born and dreams can become reality.
It is not until later on in your career when you appreciate how magical these games can be. I will always remember the words given to me by an older professional who said I should treat games like these as if it is your last. It would be great to reach the last four of the competition with an opportunity to progress further and relive that day back in March 2007 when we brought the League Cup home to Easter Road.
This competition has seen us play some of our best football this season and let’s hope this continues on Wednesday night. It’s a tough prospect but one we are most certainly capable of overcoming if we play with the right mentality.
If there is ever a time for supporters to come and show their backing to the players then Wednesday’s match against Celtic is a prime opportunity. Easter Road can be quite a hostile venue for the opposition to come and play when all three stands of the home support are well populated with singing Hibees. The fans can really play their part and drive the team on. As a player, there is no greater feeling than running out of the tunnel to a vocal home support and seeing the green and white of the Hibs scarves held high in the air.
With this in mind, I truly believe every little bit of support can spur the players to a famous victory.