Chris Cadden responds to Hibs fans jeering as he makes 'fortress' claim
It was hard not to feel at least a degree of sympathy for Chris Cadden as he fielded questions about Hibs’ home form, lack of clean sheets, and a run that has seen the Capital club pick up just four points out of a possible 24 after the 1-1 draw with Motherwell.
The former Fir Park utility man – whose every touch was jeered by the visiting fans, whether jocular or otherwise – has been given an extended run at right-wingback, with Martin Boyle deployed up front to partner Kevin Nisbet, although the former Columbus Crew man was shifted to the left when Hibs boss Jack Ross tweaked his set-up to a 4-2-3-1.
Cadden appeared both frustrated and bemused after another decent performance from the Easter Road side resulted in a single point, when he felt the team did enough to win.
“I think performances have been good, it's just the wee things that aren't falling our way. If we'd scored one of those chances at the end everyone's happy as Larry,” he said afterwards.
Hibs hit the woodwork and saw a handful of shots cleared off the line as they sought a winner after Nisbet’s first-half strike was cancelled out by Tony Watt on the hour mark.
“We had great chances to win it – off the bar, off the line – and we're disappointed with the goal we lost as well,” Cadden continued.
“We had enough chances after that to win the game but it just wasn't our day unfortunately.
"Motherwell had a few but we had our chances as well. In the first half I didn't think we played our best stuff, but in the second I felt we really took the game to them.
“We could have had two or three in the second half.
"It's one of those where we just have to keep the confidence and keep the belief, which the gaffer is, and keep the performances up and things will turn for us.”
On a brighter note, Josh Campbell’s input – setting up Nisbet for the opener, putting in a shift in midfield, and rattling the bar late on – and the performance of Josh Doig were appreciated by fans and players alike.
"We can see in training how good Josh Campbell is and when he got his chance in the semi-final he took it, and I think he's been great,” Cadden agreed.
“He was unlucky not to get the goal which I think he deserved, but he's been brilliant. Every day in training we can see that, left foot, right foot, fittest man... I’ve been really impressed by him.
"Josh Doig has been great as well. [Motherwell] was a high-pressure game for us as well, and he goes and puts in a performance like that.
“He's been brilliant, he's played in big games for Hibs at such a young age and you sometimes forget how young he is when he's about the place because he's in the team and doing so well.”
Hibs now face three games against bottom-six sides, starting with a trip to Livingston on Wednesday followed by matches against St Mirren in Paisley and Dundee at Easter Road.
While Cadden is happy to have the games coming thick and fast so the side can immediately start focusing on the next match, of more immediate concern is the club’s profligacy in front of goal and alarming tendency to concede.
Hibs haven't kept a clean sheet since the 1-0 win against St Johnstone at Easter Road back in late September while they have registered just five goals in eight games.
"I'm not quite sure what's going on but we need to get our home form sorted,” Cadden admitted.
“We need to try and make Easter Road a fortress, 100 per cent. I can't put my finger on anything in particular, we just need to do better.
"You need to keep clean sheets and you need to defend well; it's one of the things the gaffer puts on us,” the 25-year-old added.
“I didn't realise it's been nine games since our last clean sheet but that's something we'll need to look at. We've got great players in defence; the centre-halves – Ryan Porteous, Paul Hanlon – are great players, I've been so impressed by them since I came here.”
Easter Road wasn’t so much a fortress as a theatre of moans on Saturday. Loud jeering from the home supporters greeted the final whistle and Cadden insists he can understand why.
"Fans want to win games of football and so do we. We're not happy with not winning games of football so we're just as unhappy as they are,” he explained.
“They want to see their team win and that's completely understandable.”
After the next three league matches Hibs return to the national stadium for their Premier Sports Cup final against Celtic but Cadden insists any thoughts of Hampden have been firmly parked.
“The cup final is in the back of our minds – you wouldn't be human if you weren't thinking about it,” Cadden suggested.
“But there are massive games coming up in the league. The cup final is there, and it will come around when it comes around, but between now and then we have to try and get results in some big games.
"For me personally, the more games the better. Obviously it's tough on the legs, I'm not going to lie; physically it's tough, but you just want to get as many games in as possible.
"You can't dwell on it too much. We're working towards a massive game on Wednesday now. It's a quick turnaround but it could be good for us.”