Conrad Logan: I wanted to keep my side of Hibs' bargain
While all eyes were on how many goals Hibs might score against Dumbarton as they chase down Falkirk for second place in the Championship, goalkeeper Conrad Logan's mission was simple '“ to ensure he didn't concede even one.
As it was, Alan Stubbs’ side slashed the Bairns goal advantage from seven to just three on Tuesday, but, goalkeeper Logan said, the one-on-one save he made from Dumbarton’s Calum Waters may prove to be just as crucial as any scored.
“When it comes down to goal difference, a clean sheet was probably as important as anything,” insisted the 30-year-old. “It gives you something to build on and now we have managed to give ourselves a fighting chance.
“Had we won by a goal or two it would have been a big ask, but Anthony Stokes scoring so late on to make it four makes a huge difference as turning round seven in just two games was a big ask.”
Head coach Alan Stubbs’ claimed Hibs could have won the match 7-0 had it not been for a terrific display from Jamie Ewings, the Dumbarton goalkeeper pulling off a string of impressive saves and enjoying a touch of luck as Lewis Stevenson’s shot struck the post.
However, insisted Logan, he could only applaud his opposite number, saying: “He made a couple of class saves, but it was good to see us creating so many chances and to score the goals we did.
“People were probably thinking we needed seven, but you’d be buzzing to win any game 4-0.”
Having trimmed Falkirk’s lead, Logan believes second place could go either way in what promises to be a nail-biting afternoon as Hibs face Queen of the South at Easter Road and the Bairns take on Morton at home.
It is, though, a scenario he has been through before, on the bench as Leicester City’s bid to clinch a Championship play-off place went down to the final day of the season three years ago.
The Foxes were battling Bolton Wanderers for that place and took it when Anthony Knockaert scored in the last minute to give them a 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest while the Trotters were held 2-2 by Blackpool.
Both sides finished on 68 points, but Leicester’s superior goal difference – 15 better off – saw them in the play-offs, only to lose to Watford.
The Irishman recalled: “It was one of those days, looking up into the stands to see the scores. But you had to do your own job and luckily we scored in the last minute.
“Had we drawn and results had gone our way elsewhere we’d have been kicking ourselves, so on Sunday we have to focus on what we have to do first and let the rest take care of itself.
“A lot will happen in the 90 minutes. We could score a couple, they could score a couple ... you just don’t know.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of changes as the afternoon wears on, but we have to go out and play the game with the same mentality at the other night, keep a clean sheet, score the goal we can and then we’ll see what happens after that.
“There are no gimmes. A goal conceded by Falkirk or whatever could make all the difference, but all we can do is affect what we do.
“There’s always the danger of getting caught up in what’s going on elsewhere and I’m sure fans of both clubs will be well aware of what’s going on in the other game. But we can’t go out thinking we have to score loads of goals.
“We have to be tight at the back as conceding goal could turn out to be detrimental at the end of the day. It’s a case of go out, play the game and do our job.
“We have a fighting chance now and hopefully we can get over the line.”
However, having followed up his Hampden heroics, a series of important saves capped by stopping Dundee United’s first two efforts in the penalty shoot-out to help guide Hibs to the final of the Scottish Cup, with another clean sheet, Logan admitted he can’t be sure of playing on Sunday, with Stubbs having declared Mark Oxley as his No.1.
Logan, who had been out of the game with a ruptured Achilles tendon for 16 months before his fairytale comeback, revealed he’s happy enough to accept Stubbs’ decision but insisted that won’t stop him trying to get hold of the gloves whenever he can.
He said: “I couldn’t ask for more than two clean sheets in my first two games. Hampden was mad. I probably didn’t realise the magnitude of the game because of the history of the club and not winning for so long.
“The fans’ reaction has been brilliant, on social media and meeting them on the street has been fantastic, but the Dumbarton game was as important for me because people remember Hampden and it’s quite easy to come in, find there’s not much happening and you lose a goal through lapses in concentration.
“So I was happy to play and try to build on the foundations from Hampden.”
Logan’s performance at Hampden earned him a hero’s welcome as he emerged from the dug-out to warm up in Hibs’ following match against Rangers, many fans believing he should have been between the sticks that night rather than Oxley.
Admitting he was “half- embarrassed” by the reception he received, he said: “It was unbelievable, but nice to be appreciated by the fans.
“It doesn’t happen a lot in football, especially having played just one game, so to get that was terrific.
“I think the fans thought it was a difficult decision for the manager, but fair play to him, Mark has played the majority of games, was No.1 and he backed him to play and I appreciate his decision. But it was still important for me to get in training, trying to get a game and thankfully I was chosen the other night. I only learned just before the game I’d be playing so I was happy to get the shirt.
“Mark and I get on really well. We train hard and we are both fighting for the place, so it’s good for both of us to be on top of our game.”
While, as you would expect, Logan has half-an-eye on former club Leicester’s bid for a historic Premier League title, he insisted he is fully focused on a dream ending to the season for Hibs.
He said: “What Leicester have done this season is unbelievable. I hope they do it on Saturday, if not at home to Everton the next week.
“But from where I have come from and so many the possibility of getting up through the play-offs and a cup final, I just have to be fully focused on that.
“I’ve made some big calls coming back from the injury, when to push on and when not to. Thankfully everything has gone well.
“I was only back in training with a goalkeeping coach for a week before I got the call [from Hibs] and I had to back myself, that I was fit enough and ready.
“I came up, managed to get a few weeks training in before the semi. I felt great, ready go. I had no qualms about it and thankfully I got that shout.
“I’d like to think it’s been better than expected.”