Tom James speaks on Hibs frustration, Christian Doidge and set-piece routines
Tom James believes the frustration which hung heavily in the air on Hibs team coach as it headed home to Edinburgh following that 1-1 draw at Pittodrie was a sign of the progress Paul Heckingbottom’s players are making.
The result in Aberdeen extended a winless run in the Premiership to seven matches, Sam Cosgrove’s late equaliser robbing the Capital side not only of that elusive victory but a first triumph in the Granite City in more than seven years.
It did, however, come on the back of a Betfred Cup win against Kilmarnock, securing a place in the competition’s semi-finals, and a draw against champions Celtic and given Hibs had managed just three victories in their previous 19 meetings, a point, on the face of it, might have represented a decent outcome.
But, having led through Ryan Porteous’ early second half strike, a string of chances missed by striker Christian Doidge left the door open for Derek McInnes’ players to salvage something from a game which they ended with just nine men on the pitch, Curtis Main and Lewis Ferguson having been shown straight red cards for lunges at Hibs’ midfielder Stevie Mallan.
Shortcomings at either end of the pitch had, admitted James, proved costly, the right back saying: “It was really disappointing how it happened, part of what’s been wrong this season, that lack of ruthlessness in both boxes.
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“We had chances to go two or three up and then that chance for them at the end, just that one mistake at the back post. I felt we dominated the game and apart from those two things I think we are looking quite good.
“The standard we set is that we look to win every game and when we don’t we’re frustrated and disappointed. I think it’s good to have that sort of attitude, it shows we are all hungry, want to succeed, to do well in the cups and league.”
Unsurprisingly, Doidge hogged the headlines for all the wrong reasons, but James – who knows his team-mate well from League Two in England when they faced each other for Forest Green Rovers and Yeovil town respectively – backed his fellow Welshman to come good sooner rather than later.
He said: “Christian will score goals for fun once he gets into a rhythm. Obviously Saturday wasn’t a good one for him, but I’m sure he’ll take his next chance.
“Christian is the sort of striker who goes on scoring streaks. If you look at his record down south there are runs where he gets a couple of goals every game or every other game. So, while it is frustrating, I’m not too worried.
“It’s annoying because we should have won against Aberdeen, frustrating that we could have broken that little curse of not winning there for so long, and knowing we should have won quite comfortably.
“But the timing of Christian’s runs was superb, it was his run that led to our goal against Celtic. He’s getting into the right areas and now it’s just his finishing – but that will come and I’m sure he will go on to score a lot of goals for us.”
Hibs’ solitary strike at Pittodrie came from a well-rehearsed drill from the training ground, Daryl Horgan and Mallan working a short corner to create the space for James to shoot from just outside the area.
Plan A, that James’ effort would find the back of the net, didn’t come off, the ball coming off Main, but Porteous was the first to react, lashing it beyond Dons goalkeeper Joe Lewis.
James said: “It was something we worked on and it came off which is always good to see. The hope was that it would be me putting it in the net, but I’ll happily take the assist. Now we have the international break but we won’t be taking the foot off the gas, we’ll be working as hard as ever.”