At such a late stage in the season, whether it be at the top or bottom end of the league, it’s all about winning football matches and getting points on the board. The precious three we achieved yesterday up at Inverness were arguably the most important since the season began away back in July of last year.
If I am honest with my assessment, the victory seemed highly unlikely after going behind where we can consider ourselves very fortunate the game was not dead and buried as the home side missed a number of great opportunities to put the game out of sight. I don’t think anyone could have predicted a 3-2 outcome in Hibs’ favour at halftime after what was an extremely poor first-half display.
I am quite sure Terry Butcher will still be scratching his head trying to fathom out how his side never managed to take anything from a match they controlled for the majority of the 90 minutes. But as we all know, failing to convert the chances that come your way when on top can be detrimental as it only takes the opposition one opportunity to steal the three points from right under your nose.
This victory may turn out to be the result that secures our safety and our bid to start next season as an SPL side, as it is going to be extremely difficult for Dunfermline to find a winning formula at such a late stage. However, we cannot afford to relax and must look to build on this victory when Motherwell arrive at Easter Road on Sunday. We have so far failed to record back-to-back league victories – what a time to achieve such a feat should we gain another three points at the weekend.
Pat Fenlon will be aware that we are far from being a side capable of collecting three points consistently, as results have shown, and major changes have to be made over the summer to ensure this situation doesn’t happen again under his stewardship. The victory achieved yesterday should assist in boosting confidence within the camp and with that, an opportunity to go out and play with a bit more freedom. Tension doesn’t help any footballer and can actually produce further negativity with individuals more prone to making a mistake rather than producing that bit of magic when it’s needed most.
As I have said in the past, the fear of relegation is a different kind of pressure altogether. You will always have a chance of winning any fixture when you have goals at your disposal and I believe we do have this with the strikers we possess at the club. But the key to finding the back of the net is to be found in the service provided to the front men. This was hugely concerning in yesterday’s showing but when the chances did arise, it was pleasing they were clinically dispatched after such few attempts on the Inverness goal. This was, ultimately, the difference between the two sides and an odd occasion where luck was actually on our side.
Yesterday’s victory will be felt wholeheartedly by everyone at the club, as it is not just the playing staff or management who are affected by such a poor run of form. A lasting memory of mine revolves around a cleaning assistant from my time at Motherwell who burst into tears after a survival decider against Dunfermline went in our favour. This same woman made me feel so welcome at the club upon my arrival and although you have to retain your professionalism and carry on with your job as normal, I wasn’t aware of the effect the threat of relegation can have on alternative roles within the club. With regards to the playing staff, there may be contracts on the table from other clubs should the unthinkable occur, but for the personnel who do all the important jobs behind the scenes, their futures can be hanging in the balance.
Should this victory be the one to ensure our survival is achieved, the smiles can now look to be restored upon the faces of the supporters with a Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen now eagerly anticipated.