Alan Stubbs today hailed his defence, claiming they had earned Hibs full points against Championship basement side Livingston by clocking up a fourth successive clean sheet.
A stunning free-kick from Liam Henderson, scoring for the second game in a row, was enough to clinch a fourth straight victory for the Capital club but Stubbs admitted they’d had to work hard for it.
Goalkeeper Mark Oxley pulled off a super save from Scott Pittman with the game goalless before Paul Hanlon took Liam Buchanan’s effort from the rebound effort off his own line. And, in the dying seconds, Lewis Stevenson denied substitute Jordyn Sheerin an equaliser, diverting his shot over the bar.
Noting Hibs were nine games into last season before notching their first shut-out and have already claimed six having played that number this time round, the Easter Road head coach said: “I suppose you can call it progress.
“But, for me, as a fellow defender, I get a lot of satisfaction out of clean sheets – but I also get a lot of satisfaction out of scoring goals. However, I think that any team that wants to be successful has to be based on a philosophy of keeping clean sheets.
“Every manager strives for it. It’s not the easiest thing to do but the last month has been very pleasing. It’s four clean sheets and it’s no coincidence that because of that we are getting results.
“The lads at the back earned us the three points, I don’t think there’s any denying that but, on other occasions, other partnerships have earned us the three points. Mark made a great save. We could have been going in at half-time two or three up but it takes that stop after Mark having had nothing to do to prevent us being 1-0 down.
“That’s the sign of a good keeper when you have nothing to do but when you are called into action you make the save.”
However, as delighted as he was with his back line, Stubbs insisted the efforts of the remainder of the team in ensuring Henderson’s goal was the match-winner couldn’t be overlooked. He said: “The lads at the back will be credited with it but the lads in midfield also put in a shift. It wasn’t an easy game for us. Livingston are very honest, they showed lots of endeavour and have been unlucky in some games with things not just falling for them.
“The longer the game went on it gave them a little bit more encouragement. Yes, we could have had the game killed off at half-time but we never. I said to the boys we had to be patient, to make sure that when the next opportunity came we took it and Liam’s free-kick was a sign of quality, one worthy of winning any game.”