David Marshall hoped Hibs win was 'written in the stars' for Ron Gordon but says individual errors cost team
“I’ve been in some atmospheres in my career, luckily, but that was pretty special,” David Marshall said, as he took on media duties in the aftermath of Hibs’ 4-1 defeat by Rangers.
He was referring, of course, to the cathartic and rousing rendition of ‘Sunshine on Leith’, played as the two teams took to the Easter Road pitch. The Proclaimers song, synonymous with the Capital club, was accompanied by footage of the club’s late owner Ron Gordon, with his wife Kit and sons Ian and Colin watching on from the Directors’ Box. It appeared to have inspired Hibs, such was the way they began the game.
“We were told to hold back until halfway through the song and I had a little mascot saying to me he was scared of the noise walking out. Then he burst into song in the tunnel. It was a pretty special tribute, the fans did the family proud, unfortunately we couldn’t back that up with the result,” Marshall continued.
“Regardless of what happens at the start of the game, once you get into the nitty gritty, it just settles itself down. It certainly inspired the players in the first ten minutes because it was a special noise and when the first goal went in we thought it was written in the stars.”
Matches between Hibs and Rangers are typically high-octane affairs but with the added element of the Ron Gordon tribute, the atmosphere inside the stadium was electrifying. The hosts started strongly, Matthew Hoppe firing wide just moments before his cutback was turned into his own net by Gers defender Connor Goldson, handing Hibs the lead – for a matter of minutes, as a VAR-awarded penalty allowed James Tavernier to restore parity.
Marshall made one stunning save to deny Borna Barisic in the first half but it was an uncharacteristically poor clearance from the Hibs captain that led to Rangers’ third – one of a number of individual errors the ‘keeper admitted had cost Hibs over the course of the 90 minutes.
“It was tough,” he admitted. “We were excellent at the start of the game, got the goal, and then the penalty came so quickly. That took the wind out of our sails a little bit and to be fair to Rangers, they’re in a good run of form and they played really well.
“I know it’s easy to say but all the goals were glaring individual errors, and that’s the most disappointing thing. We didn’t play as well as we have done in the previous seven games. Our support wants to see us try and win games, it’s about trying to get that balance. We need to be closer to Rangers when we play them at Easter Road. It was a good 15-minute spell but in the second half they were really on top, so getting that balance is difficult. We are still a club that wants to play in a certain way, the manager wants to, and everyone can understand that. The start justified that, we just have to have the confidence to take it into a full 90 minutes.
"But everybody has to be an 8/10, 9/10, and those individual errors cost us. We came up against a good team but you’re always hopeful, especially at Easter Road when Celtic and Rangers come here that you can turn up and win the game, so there’s a bit of regret there that we haven’t played as well as we have done in recent games.”
Marshall accepts that there is a gap between the Old Firm and the rest of the league, but insisted that Hibs have to do better on home turf. Next up is a trip to his former club Celtic, where Hibs will hope to avoid a repeat of the 6-1 pasting they received at the same venue in October.
“We’ve spoken about it and we know we need to bounce back. We know there’s a gap to the Old Firm, we need to be realistic about that, vut at Easter Road we expect to do better,” the shot-stopper added.
“We have five games before the split and it’s almost a mini run-in now, we need to put ourselves in a good position. We play Celtic next and then we don’t play again until April, so it’s a strange time but we won’t be lacking confidence – the club is in a better position since the window closed. We just have to show it on the pitch and I am sure we have enough in us to have a good end to the season.”
Given the form Ange Postecoglou’s men are in, a trip to face Celtic would be a daunting prospect for most teams but Marshall insists returning to his former stamping ground is the best possible way to bounce back from Wednesday night’s disappointment.
“We’ve picked a good game to get back on the horse, given it’s Parkhead, but we’re getting better,” he said with a wry smile. “Everybody has to be realistic, we were disappointed with a lot of the performance against Rangers but there were times, especially at the start of the game, where we played well. Everyone is coming back to fitness so I certainly think we’re in a better place now than we were a few months ago.”
It has been very stop-start for Hibs since the beginning of February: play a game, have a week off, play a game, another week off. It could be argued that the extended breaks are a blessing in disguise for various reasons although Marshall, personally, favours a more hectic schedule.
“I just prefer to play. You could argue that with the results. We just need to make sure we don’t let this affect us and bounce back because there aren’t a lot of points separating us from Livingston, Aberdeen, St Mirren. Everyone is close, so we need to get ourselves into position going into the split.”