Christian Doidge fluffed his big Hibs chance – but has he done enough to get another one?
They say a week is a long time in football. That is most certainly applicable to Hibs frontman Christian Doidge.
Instrumental in helping the Easter Road side bring champions Celtic’s 100 per cent league record to a halt eight days ago, it was – by some distance – the £350,000 summer signing from Forest Green’s most productive afternoon in a Hibs jersey.
There was some renewed optimism among supporters that Doidge was about to finally ignite after a quiet start to his Hibs career.
The 27-year-old even received a ringing endorsement from colleague and BBC Scotland’s A View from the Terrace’s Joel Sked on Friday evening.
Fast forward little more than 24 hours and it wasn’t Doidge’s finest hour in the Granite City.
Having assumed the lead through Ryan Porteous just three minutes after the restart – Aberdeen then subsequently reduced to ten men following Curtis Main’s lunge on Stevie Mallan – Doidge passed up two gilt-edged chances when through on goal that, had he converted at least one of them – and he should have – would have not only given the Capital side a much-needed three points but also a first victory in the north east since May 2012.
The opportunities to double – and then triple – Hibs' lead weren’t half chances by any means. Even head coach Paul Heckingbottom said afterwards that there couldn’t have been any complaints had Hibs made their way back down the road having won three or four nil.
And although a point prior to the match would have been deemed a more than acceptable outcome for a Hibs side who haven’t been without their struggles this term, the reality staring the players in the face is the three points were there for the taking.
So, where does this leave Doidge, who is still yet to find the net in the league for his new club, ahead of a return to Premiership action with a trip to Hamilton in just under a fortnight’s time?
Firstly, the match probably can’t come quick enough for the striker as he’s left to stew on his Pittodrie nightmare during the international break. But then there’s no guarantees he will be afforded that opportunity to make amends from the start in South Lanarkshire.
Following his industrious showing against Celtic, the position as Hibs’ lone striker was Doidge’s to lose. He had to bide his time to be given the nod in the first place, Florian Kamberi being Heckingbottom’s preferred option until the Betfred Cup quarter-final away at Kilmarnock on September 25.
Kamberi is the obvious candidate to reclaim that starting berth at Accies. However, with just one goal to his name so far coming in a 2-2 draw with St Johnstone back in August, the Swiss is hardly firing on all cylinders either.
And then there’s Oli Shaw, who was again left to twiddle his thumbs on the subs’ bench against Aberdeen despite scoring a brace in the Development side’s 3-2 win over English Championship side Brentford’s B team earlier this week.
Doidge has led the line well and his general play has been good. Hibs, in truth, have played better recently with him as the lone striker. However, his finishing is letting him down. Even aside from the three glorious Pittodrie chances, he has passed up presentable opportunities in the past, a near open-goal against St Mirren on the opening day of the Premiership coming to mind.
His finishing and composure does need to improve. Will it just take one goal to set him off, as is so often the way with strikers? Heckingbottom will use the next two weeks to decide whether to hand him the start against Hamilton on October 19, or revert back to Kamberi.
Of course, the Hibs boss could pair both of them together, but that seems fanciful given Hibs have generally done well in their new-look 4-1-4-1 system. It's likely to be one of Doidge or Kamberi. The former shot himself in the foot on Saturday, but Heckingbottom might just give his man another chance. After all, he splashed the cash to sign him in the summer. One thing is for sure, though, if he is selected at Hamilton, he can't miss the target again.